The Netherlands intends to transition away from the use of natural gas for domestic space heating. But where does one start (which neighbourhood or housing estate) and what is the best alternative for natural gas? CE Delft and Quintel were asked by the municipality of Groningen, Enexis Netbeheer and Gasunie to answer these questions. What makes the approach of these two research agencies special is that they each used their own model to assess the best alternative for gas in each neighbourhood of one specific municipality.
Three potential alternatives were examined: a local heat grid, all-electric (heat pump with top-notch insulation) and green gas with a hybrid heat pump. A heat grid may be an appealing option if there is a suitable local heat source – waste industrial heat or geothermal, for example – and building density is relatively high, giving a reasonable cost figure per dwelling. If the homes can be excellently insulated, the all-electric solution comes into the picture. For older dwellings, green gas with a hybrid heat pump will be the best option.
What results the models generate depends on a range of parameters, not only building characteristics and density, but also such factors as the percentage of homes managed by housing corporations, projected building energy performance, the cost of the technologies and the present electricity and gas grids. In each model choices are made as to which parameters are included, and how, which means the ensuing results may differ.
Agreements and differences between the models
It is rare for a project principal to ask two different research agencies to address the same question. In this project this was specifically motivated by the consideration that working with two models, each with its own procedures and perspective, has added value as a means of exploring certainties and uncertainties in a structured manner.
CE Delft used the ‘CEGOIA’ model. This model optimises per neighbourhood/estate and determines choice via-à-vis heating technology and home improvement in such a way that the solution is as favourable as possible for all Groningen neighbourhoods/estates, given the availability of scarce resources.
Quintel used the ‘Energy Transition’ model. Proceeding from the characteristics of each neighbourhood/estate and its practical experience, this model derives the scenario and energy carrier (heat, electricity, green gas) most expedient for each. In doing so, the same restrictions with respect to availability of scarce resources were assumed.