The need for renewable heat is greater than for renewable electricity
Renewable sources of energy known to the general public are essentially hydro, wind and photovoltaic energies. These are all sources of electrical power. However, in the future, a majority of our renewable energy will be provided for heating uses. For instance, the French “Program for Energy Infrastructures” of the Minister for the Environment provides that by 2020, 60% of renewable energy in France will be heat (thermal energy). In particular, biomass and geothermal energy for heat production (target markets of Kyotherm) should represent three times more kWh than wind and solar energy combined. Below is a summary of the public goals for France:
A. Heat production by sector in 2020
- Biomass: 15 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe)
- Geothermal Energy: 2.3 million toe
- Solar: 0.9 million toe
- Waste to energy: 0.9 million toe
- Biogas: 0.6 million toe
For a total of 19.7 million toe (compared to 9.7 million in 2006)
B. Electricity production by sector in France in 2020:
- Hydro: 5.4 million toe
- Onshore Wind: 3.6 million toe
- Offshore Wind: 1.4 million toe
- Biomass: 1.4 million toe
- Solar photovoltaics: 0.5 million toe
- Other (geothermal, ocean energy …): 0.1 million toe
For a total of 12.5 million toe (compared to 5.6 million in 2006)
The heating market is the largest energy consumption sector in Europe. It must adapt to new regulations
More than 40% of the final energy used in Europe is consumed in the building sector (43% in France). Around 85% of this energy is required for heating and domestic hot water. It is, with the transport sector, the first sector in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases. Below is the distribution of energy consumption in Europe:
The European Commission, as well as national governments have realized that, by far, the maximum potential for energy-savings and CO2 reduction lies in the building sector. Public policies in Europe have long focused on the production of renewable electricity, while electricity represents only 15 % – a small share – of our energy consumption. The heat market, the main sector of energy consumption in buildings, is the main area to fight climate change and curb the emissions of greenhouse gases. It is also a powerful driver to lower the energy bills of households.
The new Thermal Regulations
New thermal regulations are coming into effect in Europe to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector. In France, the new standard “RT 2012” came into effect on October 28, 2011 for offices and on January 1, 2013 for homes. All new buildings must comply with a maximum consumption of 50 kWh/m2/year, against an average consumption of 400 kWh/m2/year for existing buildings. The use of renewable energy can reduce this constraint. The “RT 2015” and “RT 2020” standards, in preparation, will be even more compelling: the “RT 2015” requires a maximum consumption of 30 kWh/m2/year, and the “RT 2020” is aiming at the construction of positive energy buildings. To achieve these goals, the use of renewable thermal energy is necessary.
Efforts to fight climate change will intensify
Emissions of carbon dioxide have continuously increased since the beginning of the industrial era. The Stern report estimates the cost of climate change to 5% of the GDP if we do not take action (up to 20% of the GDP in some cases), whereas it would cost just 1% of the GDP to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases emissions by taking the right measures, including appropriate investments.
States are required under the Kyoto agreements (the name “Kyotherm” comes from “Kyoto”) to implement policies to curb emissions of greenhouse gas emissions, including the promotion of renewable energy. The European Union has set a goal of 20% of renewable energy by 2020. The aim for France is 23% (against 15% in January 2016). This objective is consistent with that of limiting CO2 concentrations at 450 ppm, which would limit global warming to +2°C by the end of the century. Following are measures of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere:
CO2 emissions in 2010 were up 5% compared with 2008, which led the International Energy Agency to say that the goal of 450 ppm CO2 concentration was out of reach. It predicts a warming of between +3°C and +4°C by the end of the century, which would lead to a dramatic rise in sea level (+25 m minimum). Future efforts will have to be much greater than current efforts.
Energy imports, mainly of fossil fuels, represent a growing cost to our economy
Besides global warming issues, the volatile price of energy is another factor in the choice of renewable energy. The Barrel of Brent crude oil, worth $ 10 in 1999, reached $ 128 in April 2011, dropped to $ 28 in January 2016, and oscillates between $ 40 and $60 since then.
The value of imported fossil energy represents almost 90% of the trade deficit in France. The price of domestic fuel (energy source most used in France today for home heating) is about 10 c€/kWh, while wood is about 3-5 c€/kWh. Therefore, by making today the choice of renewable energy, we can preserve the economic balance of our countries, develop the use of local energy sources and create local well-paying jobs.