Renewable Heating & Cooling Market Strategy
The Commonwealth Accelerated Renewable Thermal Strategy report advises DOER on which policies and programs the Commonwealth can deploy in order to grow the market for renewable heating and cooling appliances. Renewable heating and cooling refers to solar hot water, biomass pellets and chips, ground source and air source heat pumps, biofuels and biogas. These technologies are commercially ready for deployment, but their market share in the Commonwealth is currently low.
The report outlines the results from a thorough customer class analysis, energy modeling and extensive stakeholder input throughout the summer of 2013. The benefits of investing in renewable heating and cooling (fuel savings, jobs, greenhouse gas savings) are projected to be about 3 times higher than their costs, with renewable energy potentially reaching 30-32% of overall thermal energy use in the state by 2030. Reaching this level of penetration however requires substantial and concerted efforts from state agencies as well as market participants. The main outcome of the report is a set of concrete recommended priority strategies to grow the market for renewable heating and cooling in the state. They are intended to provide guidance to market participants and be a balanced mix of financial, communication and capacity building strategies.
Energy Recovery from Waste Water
Much of the energy used to heat water for domestic uses, such as laundering and showers, and for industrial processes is lost as the heated water flows down the drain. Waste Water Energy Recovery (WWER) aims to re-capture some of that wasted energy in order to heat buildings as well as to use the waste water as a heat sink for cooling loads, similar to a ground-source heat pump using groundwater to heat and cool buildings. Air- and water-source heat pumps have been widely used for decades and are beginning to be more widely deployed as their efficiency gains recognition. The innovation in WWER is using heat pumps in a new setting, namely in sewage. WWER technology works by adapting the screening technologies already in use by sewer systems for use in energy recovery applications.
In order to develop experience and familiarity with WWER in Massachusetts, DOER partnered with students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute to explore the available technologies and existing installations using this technology. The result is presented in “ A Study of Waste Water Energy Recovery and its Implementation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. ” Importantly, this study identifies key criteria for the evaluation of potential installation sites and provided a context for DOER to begin offering financial assistance for WWER feasibility studies and project implementation. By assisting the first WWER projects, DOER is working to build a new alternative thermal technology market that has the potential to reduce energy costs, increase energy supply diversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Thermal energy is used for heating and cooling buildings, as well as for certain industrial processes. Today almost all of this energy is generated from fossil fuels like natural gas, propane or heating oil. But there is an expanding opportunity to use local renewable energy resources such as sunlight, sustainable biomass, the earth or ambient air. Technologies to use these renewable resources have been around for decades and are deployed around the world, but have recently become increasingly efficient, cost-effective and clean.
The market for renewable heating and cooling in Massachusetts is small but growing. Increasing the market share of renewable heating and cooling technologies will enable the Commonwealth to address important challenges, such as decreasing dependency of heating fuels that are either costly (oil, propane, electricity), constrained (natural gas), or both. Expanded use of renewable heating and cooling will help Massachusetts meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, increase energy efficiency, and improve air quality.
The average home or commercial building in Massachusetts spends about a third of its total energy expenditures each year on heating and cooling. Because Massachusetts depends heavily on fossil fuel
energy sources, such as oil, coal, and natural gas, the majority of those heating and cooling expenditures flow out of the region, providing little or no economic benefit to Massachusetts or the greater New England region.
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources therefore focuses on putting in place support resources for the renewable thermal market in the Commonwealth.