Accelerating the Transition to Clean Heat

Accelerating the Transition to Clean Heat

No time to wait for 2030, we need to transition to clean heat now.

Climate change is affecting us in increasingly personal ways, and most of us don’t like what we’re experiencing. If we continue our current path, the average temperature of the Earth will increase by 2°C or nearly 4°F by 2050, and by more than 2.5°C (4.5°F) by 2100. Quite simply, we can’t let that happen; waiting until 2030 to lower global carbon emissions isn’t an option. 

Good news: there are technologies ready-now to immediately address the issue. One area in which we can make an immediate, positive difference in is the heating sector. That’s significant because globally, heat is the single largest energy end-use. In the European Union, for example, fossil fuels are still delivering 75% of all heat sources.

Although we’re in the midst of a transition from a fossil fuel-dominated technology mix toward more efficient or lower-carbon solutions, the changeover isn’t happening rapidly enough. There needs to be faster worldwide adoption of heat pumps, low-carbon district heating and renewables-based heating powered by a new generation of low-global warming potential (GWP), non-ozone depleting refrigerants, such as those in Honeywell’s Solstice® portfolio.

Since their launch in 2012, our Solstice refrigerants have prevented more than 297 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Put another way, that’s the equivalent to taking more than 62 million cars off the road.

One product in the portfolio – Solstice ze (R-1234ze) refrigerant – is providing an increasing number of municipal authorities and district heating utility companies with a safer, more energy efficient and lower cost opportunity to deploy large scale heat pumps in heat networks to decarbonize towns and cities.

For example, when Ringsted District Heating Utility (DHU) – located in the center of the Danish island of Zealand – wanted to achieve 95% carbon-free heat without significantly increasing the cost to its customers, it brought in Honeywell, Danfoss Climate Solutions and other partners. Together, the companies transformed the utility’s longstanding, fossil fuel-powered heat plant with energy preserving Solstice ze refrigerant and cutting-edge Danfoss Turbocor compressor technology.

Little more than one year later, the heat plant had already met its energy, cost reduction, and emissions reduction goals, with the heat pumps increasing the efficiency and capacity of the facility by 20% and 30%, respectively. Moreover, Ringsted DHU exceeded its target of 95% carbon-free heat – demonstrating 97% instead.

Meanwhile in southeast London, the Southwark Council developed a plan to decarbonize the gas-powered heat networks used by thousands of council homes across the borough as part of its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030. To turn its plan into reality, the council brought in renewable energy provider Vital Energi and its partners ICAX and J&E Hall, to replace its legacy gas boilers with modern heat pumps powered by low GWP Solstice N15 (R-515B) refrigerant – a 91% blend and sister product of Solstice ze. Solstice N15 was chosen not only for its high efficiency, but also for its application flexibility: as an A1 non-flammable solution, it could be used in close proximity to the gas boilers and also with the council homes’ existing pipework. The result? More than 2,000 of the borough’s 55,000 council homes were significantly decarbonized, with little to no disruption to residents.

Ringsted DHU and Southwark Council are just two examples of municipal authorities and district heating utility companies taking tough but bold and immediate steps to decarbonize their heating systems.

While the urgency is clear, change can be complex. Choosing the right technologies at the right time can help balance energy consumption, climate change and economic impact now and for decades to come.

I’m proud that Solstice refrigerant technology is making difficult choices easier, combining the heating performance we all expect with the energy efficiency and low environmental impact we all need right now.

Learn more about Honeywell Solstice refrigerants’ suitability for heating applications

Ken West
President, Honeywell Advanced Materials