Decarbonising domestic heating: what is the peak GB demand?

Around 80% of domestic heat demand in Great Britain (GB) is supplied by natural gas, but continuing to heat dwellings in this way is unlikely to be compatible with national emission reduction targets. Electrical heating using heat pumps is expected to play a significant role in future space heating and hot water provision. The assessment of future heating technologies requires knowledge of the current demand for heat at short time intervals in order to evaluate peak demands and possible storage requirements. Existing half-hourly national heat demand estimates are built on data from small samples of dwellings. This paper provides estimates of GB domestic heat demand under mild, normal and cold weather conditions based on data from over 6000 dwellings collected between May 2009 and July 2010 that participated in the GB smart meter trial. The calculated peak domestic heat demand of 170 GW is around 40% lower than previously calculated suggesting that the difficulties surrounding the electrification of heat are far less profound than previously assumed. These results can be used in the development of future energy pathways and scenarios.