Government must step up efforts to encourage hot water cylinder use, says HWA

The Hot Water Association says government must “step up its efforts” to encourage use of hot water cylinders in British households as the UK moves towards a carbon neutral grid that relies on nuclear and renewable power.

The HWA argues that hot water cylinders have an important role to play in the future of the UK’s homegrown energy supply, which the government plans to convert to 95% low carbon sources by 2030. Reacting to a recent report from consultancy company LCP, the HWA says the inflexibility of nuclear power plants and the variability of renewables like wind and solar mean the UK will have to deal with the recurring problem of excess generation.

The LCP report states that power oversupply could occur more than half the time (53% of the hours in the year), if government plans to decarbonise the grid come to pass.

The HWA is now calling on government to “step up its efforts” to encourage wide deployment of hot water storage, which offers offers enormous capacity to capture excess energy and bank it for later use.  

It argues that government is paying “relativley little attention” to the role hot water cylinders could play in mitigating the excess of demand-side energy generation. There are currently approximately 9 million hot water cylinders installed in homes across England, representing less than 45% of all households, down from 77% in 2001.  

“This equates to 70GWh of untapped energy storage,” said Isaac Occhipinti, director of external affairs at the HWA.  “We believe that homeowners with a hot water cylinder should be educated on its full potential and encouraged to retain it in order to future-proof their heating system and maximise the UK’s energy storage potential.

“The energy storage potential associated with the UK’s installed capacity of domestic hot water cylinders is comparable to our entire fleet of pumped-hydro-electric storage, and with just a fraction of this resource, it would be possible to absorb the largest surpluses of renewable power that arise from offshore wind and solar PV.

“Government must do more to educate homeowners, local authorities and social landlords on the benefits and potential of hot water storage, and homeowners should be able to access incentives if they wish to replace their hot water cylinder with no stipulation on the type of system to be installed, only that it is a suitable replacement.”

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