• Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems
  • HVAC
  • Decarbonization
  • Renewable Energy

Hybrid Heating Can Support Decarbonization

May 13, 2022

Guidehouse Insights thermometer

Electrifying heat is a key pathway to decarbonization as it reduces gas use and improves efficiency through electric heat pump technology. However, as discussed in a previous Guidehouse Insights blog, high electric heating demand can increase the load when fossil fuel electricity generation may be used to meet demand, thereby increasing emissions. Hence, it is worthwhile to consider a diversified set of decarbonization solutions, such as hybrid heating solutions, in the midterm as the grid continues to decarbonize.  

Growing Interest in Hybrid Heating Solutions

Pairing a fossil fuel heating solution with a heat pump can be a decarbonization solution to cut fossil fuel use, supporting CO2 emissions reduction. According to Natural Resources Canada, hybrid heating systems with intelligent controls can reduce 30% of greenhouse gas emissions compared with gas furnaces alone.

Europe is most active in the hybrid heating solution commercialization. A coalition of 12 energy companies and manufacturers of boilers and heat pumps, Hybrid Heating Europe, actively works together to demonstrate how hybrid heating solutions increase the affordability and speed of the energy transition for buildings as envisaged in the EU Renovation Wave initiative. 

The Netherland association of national-regional electricity and gas network operators, Netbeheer Nederland, plans to deploy 2 million hybrid heat pumps by 2030. Hybrid heat pumps are easy to install and can save homeowners up to 70% on gas consumption for heating. The plan and a government subsidy scheme may enable the installation of at least 100,000 systems per year from 2024.

Hybrid heating systems can utilize fossil fuel heating solutions as backup heating in cold regions. In North America, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US introduced the intelli-HEAT Dual Fuel System, which connects with any thermostatically controlled furnace. The dual-fuel system allows homeowners with gas furnaces to use an energy efficient electric heat pump as their primary heating source to improve home comfort and sustainability. The furnace works as a heat source in extremely cold conditions. 

Transforming Interim Solutions into Long-Term Decarbonization Solutions

Although hybrid heating saves energy and gas usage, the fossil fuel heating technology as part of the hybrid system still pollutes the environment. Hybrid heating can be only an interim decarbonization solution while the grid continues to decarbonize. Nonetheless, technological innovation can transform hybrid heating into a long-term fully decarbonized heating solution.

As a hybrid solution, various technologies can be connected. For example, a hydrogen boiler can be combined with a heat pump as a 100% renewable heating solution. The heating system also can be integrated with solar power directly to optimize the power consumption. In terms of technology convergence, hybrid heating is expected to have many opportunities to support full decarbonization in the future. Thus, manufacturers must not neglect technological innovation to stay ahead of the emerging market opportunities.