Flexitricity is already working with heat networks, proving the value of thermal inertia and heat stores in balancing electricity supply and demand. We believe that the adaptability of heat networks, for example in integrating large-scale heat pumps to create hybrid systems, will secure their role in a low-carbon future.
The more that flexibility is included at design stage, the greater the impact that heat networks can have. Flexibility is needed at all timescales, from under a second to many hours. It’s increasingly needed very close to demand—exactly where heat networks are located.
The physical heat network itself has a certain amount of thermal inertia and adding thermal stores can greatly increase it. This inertia means that heat networks can for instance use heat pumps to increase their demand at times of high solar output when National Grid needs it or turn on a CHP when there isn’t enough generation on the system.
It’s crucial that flexibility becomes a fundamental design consideration for all future heat networks, so they can not only play a part in the low carbon future of heat, but also help support the decarbonisation of the electricity system by offering their flexibility to National Grid and DNOs.