Urban Electrification

With the transition to a low carbon energy system will come tremendous changes in the ways we consume and supply energy. Infrastructure and buildings stocks will have to be adapted to the new requirements related to sustainable energy technologies. To ensure long-term decisions are fit for a decarbonised future, we provide scenario assessments and strategy support. In this project for the European Copper Institute, we answered the following question: What are the system costs of several pathways for decarbonising the urban energy consumption?

Ecofys thus explored potential trajectories in the development of the urban energy infrastructure. Focussing on energy system decarbonisation options through electrification, we looked at four different scenarios: one in which biogas and biofuels are the most important energy carriers for heating of residences and private transport, one in which the energy system is built on various heating and transport options, including biogas and biofuels, district heating and (hybrid) heat pumps. In the third scenario heat is provided through (hybrid) heat pumps and district heating, with electric cars dominating in private transport. In the final scenario heat is solely provided with all-electric heat pumps.

Important drivers for the various scenarios include the availability and affordability of bioenergy, the costs for thermal insulation, high efficient windows and heating technologies and the opportunities to deploy renewable energy on a large scale using demand response and energy storage. Preliminary results show that the costs for the chosen scenarios are similar on average. This means that local circumstances and risk appetite are relatively important drivers to prefer one scenario over another.

Currently additional scenarios are being defined to gain further insight in the optimal levels of insulation and smart solutions, and further validations with stakeholders are taking place.