Project data
Authors Joshua M. Pearce
Completed 2021
Instance of Photovoltaic
Export to Open Know How Manifest
Location data
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Location Sault St. Marie, ON; Sault St. Marie, MI

Given the need for decarbonization of the heating sector and the acute need of a propane replacement in the U.S. Upper Midwest, this study quantifies the techno-economic characteristics of sustainable heating electrification in isolated rural, residential buildings in cold climates without natural gas supply. Archetypal buildings are modeled under four levels of electrification. At each electrification level, a parametric solar photovoltaic (PV) sizing analysis is performed and the total life cycle cost, renewable fraction and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are calculated based on the primary energy supply for each building type. Cost optimal solutions are stress-tested with multi-dimensional sensitivity analyses. The results show that the total life cycle cost favors heating electrification in all cases and combining PV with heat pumps can reduce residential building GHG emissions by up to 50% immediately. This effect will grow over time, with over 90% reduction of building emissions if renewable energy targets are met. In using primary energy and emissions along with the multi-dimensional sensitivities, this study unique demonstrates the complex techno-economic interactions of PV and heat pumps. It is concluded that electrification is an economically viable decarbonization method for cold climates both now and in the future.


  • Filippo Padovani, Nelson Sommerfeldt, Francesca Longobardi, Joshua M. Pearce. Decarbonizing rural residential buildings in cold climates: A techno-economic analysis of heating electrification. Energy and Buildings, 250, 2021, 111284. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2021.111284 OA, academia
    • MethodsX coming

Tctscover.png Create-Joshua-Pearce.png Pearce Publications
Energy Conservation Energy Policy Industrial SymbiosisLife Cycle Analysis Materials Science Open Source Photovoltaic Systems Solar CellsSustainable Development Sustainability Education

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Highlights[edit | edit source]

  • Cost-optimal solar heat pumps are modeled for multiple residential buildings.
  • Heating electrification reduces cost by up to 20% and GHG emissions by 30%
  • Solar PV has a small impact on life cycle cost but doubles CO2 emission reductions.
  • Sensitives show the complex economic relationship between PV and heat pumps.

&Electrification subsidies are not necessary but policies must support the transition.

Keywords[edit | edit source]

 Photovoltaic,energy, solar energy, solar power, photovoltaics, Electrification, Heat pump, Solar heat pump, Decarbonization, Electrify everything

See also[edit | edit source]