Development in space heating using Agent Based Modelling - A collective incentive or an individual choice
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Heat demand in the Netherlands is responsible for 38% of primary energy use and almost half of it (49%) is used in the built environment. The EU goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 will impose large changes is the used space heating technology of households. The energy demand mix for space heating in the built environment will therefore change. An agent based model has been created to model the behaviour of home owners and their decision for a space heating technology. It was assumed that a space heating energy demand mix with electricity as dominant energy carrier will impose great challenges on the grid with large costs, costs that exponentially enlarge with higher demand from relatively low prices now. Clean gas, an overarching term for biogas, a mix of hydrogen and other CO2 neutral gasses, distributed via the existing natural gas network, could lower the overall system cost for space heating as clean gas costs are assumed to go exponentially down from a high start price now. As the network can only distribute one kind of gas, this distribution is only possible when home owners decide together to use clean gas. Especially the interaction between agents possibly forming a collective incentive to switch to clean gas has been investigated to see if a gaseous energy carrier can be a sustainable energy carrier in the energy mix. The results show that a collective incentive can arise and a gaseous energy carrier can be sustainable if the price difference between clean gas and electricity is kept small. Other policy possibilities are encouraging neighbourhood interaction and forcing small neighbourhood to switch to clean gas. For this last policy option, the timing of the policy is important.