There was a time when it seemed reasonable to be sceptical about the call to ‘electrify everything’, back in the days when the carbon intensity of the UK electricity system was c.500 gCO2/kWh.
But now, with a reduction of the carbon intensity to c.250 gCO2/kWh, there’s understandably a greater response to support a world that focuses on utilising advances in energy management and infrastructure.
Biases surrounding technology can be ingrained from actions in the past, and it’s important that we shake these if we want to keep ahead of the curve and start to utilise solutions that are better for the environment. One great example from this can be seen in the development of heat pumps. During the 1980s there was a big push for industrial heat pumps, with many articles and reports attempting to explain how they worked and their benefits. The problem was, that these explanations left under-performed systems over-hyped and misunderstood.
Many non-technical explanations of how they work - such as the description that “heat pumps are like refrigerators in reverse” - seemed to confuse users and blurred reality with fantasy. A technical expert who wrote a book about industrial heat pumps shows this by saying that “comparing heat pumps to a refrigerator is like comparing a Ferrari to a Mini. They both have four wheels and an engine, but there is a huge difference in their complexity, their maintainability and their running costs.” The outcome: people stopped believing in the efficiency of heat pumps and started to look for more suitable solutions.
“When the facts change,
I change my mind.
What do you do sir?”.
John Maynard Keynes
However, things change and when they do, it’s important to remember to be open and prepared to change your own mind. To quote John Maynard Keynes: “when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?”. It is clear in research that heat pump technology, in particular for space heating, has moved on. Paul Kenny of Tipperary Energy Agency explores this in his online article “How did the Beast from the East Affect Heat Pump Performance”, by recording real-world performance of 16 residential heat pump installations during extreme cold weather in March 2018.
There are plenty of other good case-studies that highlight electricity’s increased efficiency and reduced impact on the environment. Another that might surprise you is the data on the effects gas cooking has on indoor air quality (particularly the effect on CO, CO2, NO2 and VOCs). Many have grown up cooking with natural gas and have ignored the effect, perhaps instead thinking that indoor air quality problems result from cooking on wood fires or kerosene stoves in poorly ventilated spaces. But recent research by HOMEchem is starting to highlight just how polluted indoor air can be during and after cooking. The answer? Go electric. Induction hobs are leading the way when it comes to cooking with electric and dramatically improve indoor air quality.
From the way we heat our homes and offices, to transportation solutions, evidence that we’re moving into a more electrified future is all around us. But to get to a stage where everything is electrified, companies need to access the resources they require to develop their ideas and improve on previous models. Whether asset light (such as software focused) or asset heavy (such as energy infrastructure), we believe the answer to a more socially and environmentally beneficial future comes from helping companies that are focused on making changes that positively affect the world around us. Because of this, we provide advice and capital to clients with an interest in electrifying everything and reducing our daily impact on the planet.