Responding to an industry study by consultancy company LCP, the Hot Water Association, (HWA) says the government must step up its efforts.
Isaac Occhipinti, Director of External Affairs, HWA, commented: “The HWA have been warning government for some time about the risk of ‘lost’ or ‘untapped’ energy. Only last year the HWA launched a report, No Place Like Home, which highlights huge gaps in government policy potentially resulting in the UK falling short of Net Zero, or at the very least, making it harder to reach.
“The LCP analysis states ‘the sheer scale of the challenge of transitioning the energy system to one so heavily dependent on renewables and nuclear has only just begun to be addressed. If the Government’s new 2030 targets for nuclear and renewables are achieved, our initial analysis indicates that there will be an oversupply of power more than half the time (53% of the hours in the year) – up from 6% expected in the coming year’.
“There is much excitement around the role that energy storage technologies can play to help accommodate more low to zero carbon energy sources into the UK’s generation infrastructure, however, relatively little attention has been paid to hot water cylinders. There are currently approximately nine million hot water cylinders installed, in homes across England, which is less than 45% of homes in England, down from 77% in 2001.
“However, this still equates to 70GWh of untapped energy storage (around seven times the capacity of the UK’s largest pumped hydro power facility, Dinorwig in Wales). HWA believes that homeowners with a hot water cylinder should be educated on its full potential and encouraged to retain it in order to future proof their heating system and maximise the UK’s energy storage potential.
“Homeowners are not replacing or installing low carbon measures at the speed required to meet our decarbonisation targets. Also, where a hot water store has been removed the space is often repurposed for additional storage or bathrooms, and therefore re-introducing a hot water store can prove challenging.
“In addition to meeting multi outlet demand, storage systems are essential partners to any renewable energy input as these sources need to be harvested and stored. Hot water storage is the only practical solution to turning the energy into something useful and banking it for when it needs to be used.
“The energy storage potential associated with the UK’s installed capacity of domestic hot water cylinders is comparable to our entire fleet of pumped-hydro-electric storage and with just a fraction of this resource; it would be possible to absorb the largest surpluses of renewable power that arise from offshore wind and solar PV.
“Government must do more to educate homeowners, local authorities and social landlords on the benefits and potential of hot water storage, and homeowners should be able to access incentives if they wish to replace their hot water cylinder with no stipulation on the type of system to be installed only that it is a suitable replacement.
“If we do not invest in this untapped asset then it will become more expensive to upgrade homes to become ready for net zero. We also will not be able to take advantage of the current grid balancing potential of millions of hot water stores.”
No Place Like Home, the HWA’s full report on the potential of Hot Water Storage, is available to download here