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Sustainable Solutions to Europe’s Energy Troubles: the Role of Renewable Heat Generation

April 19, 2023

Before 24 February 2022, Europe’s green transition was an inspiring vision of a more sustainable future, slowly but steadily coming into being. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and its impact on natural gas supplies – transformed it into a matter of survival.

Natural gas is still widely used for space heating and heat in industrial processes. As a result, the almost overnight loss of around 40% of its natural gas supply sent Europe’s energy markets into crisis, with record price hikes hitting industry especially hard. This has given fresh urgency to the regulatory shifts that were already in place before the conflict. 

Necessity, as they say, has become the mother of invention – or in this case, an urgent call to reform energy policy and reduce emissions, driven by regulation and the need to improve emissions numbers for reporting.

In this post, we’re taking a look at how geopolitical and regulatory shifts have now come together to accelerate the move away from gas. We’ll also explore the critical role that renewable heat energy is already playing in this transformation.

renewable heat generationReturning energy policy to solid ground: the limitations of natural gas for industrial heating

But even without the catalyzing effect of the conflict in Ukraine, industrial reliance on natural gas – Russian or otherwise – could not have gone on indefinitely.

One of the reasons for this is the vulnerability of the supply chain for natural gas. War isn’t the only factor that can severely disrupt production and supply. Adverse weather conditions like extreme cold can cause pipes and wellheads to freeze, interrupting flow and incurring repair costs.

Factors like these lead to wide variability in price – even at the best of times. When the worst times strike – as they have done in Ukraine, the underlying fragility is exposed, with disastrous results.

The final and perhaps most important factor driving the global turn away from gas is regulatory pressure. Natural gas bans and restrictions in many US jurisdictions have sent a clear signal that governments are serious about limiting fossil fuel combustion for heating – both residential buildings and industrial processes.

Bad for sustainability, even worse for industrial planning

For industry the problem is especially acute. Many factories still rely on gas for their industrial process heating. But because they’re not priority recipients of this gas, their supply can be interrupted. Production is disrupted, machines shut down and precious labor time is wasted. These factors conspire to make planning extremely difficult across almost all industries, from food industries to pharmaceuticals. 

In recent years, surges in gas prices have caused breakdowns in the production of essential goods like ammonia, with cascading effects on other vital industries like food production and processing.

Amidst ongoing uncertainty and volatility, countries around the world are turning to innovative technologies like renewable heat, and heat electrification, to find solutions. 

Renewable Heat Generation: the just-in-time solution for industry

The energy demand for heat is more than double than the demand for electricity generation, and it accounts for 55% of global emissions. Optimizing heat generation is therefore an urgent necessity that has the potential to radically reduce emissions in the long term.

Technologies in the renewable heat domain, such as advanced solar thermal collectors, and in the heat pump domain have now matured to offer solutions that are suitable for large heat users, commercial and industrial.  As part of the same solution, thermal storage and cloud services ensure a short return on investment for these systems with clear insights into operations.

TIGI Solar: the future of “Heat as a Service”

The shift to renewable heat generation and storage is no longer a lofty ideal or a nice-to-have. For industry, it has become a vital necessity.

As leaders in heat generation and storage, TIGI provides customized, end-to-end solutions for industrial and commercial users, incorporating advanced control and cloud services, industrial heat pumps, solar thermal collector arrays, and intelligent storage.

TIGI also offers a heat-as-a-service option whereby the client pays for heat energy actually provided at a discount, as compared to burning of fossil fuels with no upfront investment.  This reduces operational complexity and risk, ensuring savings from day one.

Contact our team to learn more about how businesses are completing their transition away from fossil fuels meeting their sustainability goals with TIGI as their chosen strategic partner.

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