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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T022795/1
Title: Integrated heating and cooling networks with heat-sharing-enabled smart prosumers
Principal Investigator: Qadrdan, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Wu, Professor J Jenkins, Professor N Abeysekera, Dr MP
Woodman, Dr B Thomas, Professor HR Connor, Professor PM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr RJ Lowes Dr X Xu
Project Partners:
Bridgend County Borough Council ICAX Ltd Kensa Group Ltd
Technical University of Denmark University of Warwick
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: Cardiff University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2021 Ends: 31 March 2025 Value (£): 856,109
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Sustainable Energy Networks
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
13 Feb 2020 Decarbonising Heat Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Project aim

This project proposes a solution for integrated supply of zero carbon heating and cooling using near ground temperature networks that enable buildings to use heat pumps and cooling machines to exchange thermal energy with the network and meet their heating and cooling demand. When a building demands cooling, it rejects its excess heat to the network that can balance the heating demand of another buildings. Therefore, in this project we refer to such networks as 'balanced heating and cooling network' (BHCN). Key contributions of this research are: (i) To investigate the optimal design and operation of BHCN using a multi-objective optimisation approach to balance costs of the system and the value it can provide to the whole power grid via providing flexibility services. In particular, we will examine inter-seasonal heat storage, and also the feasibility of using NH3 and CO2 (as alternatives to water) for heat transport mediums in BHCNs. (ii) To design a local heat market that enables peer-to-peer (P2P) heat sharing to maximise the use of zero carbon sources of thermal energy on-site, and (iii) To identify technical, regulatory and policy barriers against implementing BHCNs (i.e. managing the transition from status quo to BHCN). This research will also build significant UK research capacity in zero carbon and ambient temperature heat networks.


The need for decarbonising heat supply: According to the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy, the UK Government believes 'decarbonising heat is our most difficult policy and technology challenge to meet our carbon targets'. Progress on energy efficiency and low carbon heat provision remains below expected levels and natural gas infrastructure continues to be expanded which poses risk to achieving the recently set net zero goal for 2050.

The role of heat networks: The Clean Growth Strategy suggests 17% of domestic heat and between 17% and 24% of service sector heat could be provided through heat networks in 2050. The Committee on Climate Change suggests around 5 million homes could use district heat by 2050 based on techno-economic modelling. However, heat network growth is slow despite requiring around a tenfold increase from the current level by 2050.

The growing demand for cooling: Coinciding with the crucial need for supplying low carbon heat, the demand for cooling is also increasing in the UK (and globally) due to population increase and climate change impacts which are leading to more frequent heatwaves and temperature rises. According to BRE, up to 10% of all UK electricity use is for air conditioning and cooling. Because of this established trend toward increased use of cooling, the proportion of UK electricity used for cooling is expected to rise further.

A potential solution for zero carbon supply of heating and cooling: Balanced Heating and Cooling Networks (BHCN), are a form of district heating system which circulates water at near ground temperature to buildings allow them to use their own heat pumps to extract heat for heating, or to export heat to the network when cooling is required.

BHCNs address many of the drawbacks of conventional heat networks through operating at reduced temperature and therefore minimising heat losses and reduce the cost of highly insulated pipes. They also open up opportunities for integrating various sources of renewable heat into the networks. The circuit can also be extended to new buildings at limited cost.

Work Programme

WP1 - Case study definition

WP 2 - Assessing renewable heat sources and inter-seasonal storage

WP 3 - Techno-economic appraisal of BHCN

WP 4 - Development of a methods and tools for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) heat sharing

WP 5 - Managing implementation and transition to BHCNs

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.cf.ac.uk