Energy systems are changing as we seek progressively lower carbon solutions to the provision of heat, power and transport. This change is typified by increased renewables on the central generating grid and also the growth in local generation and decentralised energy systems. For new build improved design and construction of the building envelope and the introduction energy efficient measures and improved control systems has reduced primary energy demand. At the same time the carbon intensity of grid supplied electricity has been falling. In addition , embedded decentralised energy assets such building integrated solar photo voltaic panels have been introduced and the adoption of modern low temperature heat networks and electrification of heating have all contributed to falling carbon emissions of buildings.
These trends are expected to continue. However globally carbon emissions continue to rise and climate change is now recognised as a priority for action. As a result many organisations and regions are targeting a net zero approach.
Whole System Design
This increasingly means that a “whole system” approach is required to get down to the very low residual carbon emissions inherent in a net zero target . In decentralised energy systems the demand trajectory and the low carbon supply options are considered together. Local resources are harnessed to meet local demand. Decentralised energy systems are characterised by the dynamic nature of both supply and demand and this in turn needs some form of intelligent infra-structure.
It is recognised that there are links between options for delivering low carbon heat, power and transport, and in particular demand for low carbon power associated with buildings will increase as we seek to decarbonise both heat and transport.