IEA Heat Pump Conference, Montreal, May 2014: Is Asia leading the way with Heat Pump R&D?
I have just returned from the IEA Heat Pump Centre Conference in Montreal, Canada, where I was impressed by the extent of new heat pump R&D and development – some of which is indicative of a new generation of heat pumps which could be commercialised over the next few years. I also gave a presentation on developments in Europe regarding smart heat pumps and the value to the customer which you can access here.
While the papers presented at the conference illustrated the global extent of advancement of heat pump technologies and markets, I noted clear evidence that Asia in particular is ahead of the curve in terms of driving HP R&D - especially Japan and Korea but with China emerging fast. Developments in these markets are being driven by strong government energy efficiency targets in response to security of supply concerns, spiralling demand and a need for energy conservation.
This is supporting a massive amount of support for heat pump R&D in Japan, China and South Korea in order to deliver ambitious targets regarding efficiency improvements - and in some cases cost reduction. Looking at the way Japanese companies have already significantly influenced the competitive landscape in the European heat pump market in the last few years, and from seeing the research presented at this Conference, it is difficult to see this trend changing – the difference now is that we see a much stronger presence from Korea and China than before. European (and other international) manufacturers should take note of this increasing competition!
Here are some of the topics picked up at the conference which we will be watching closely in future Heat Pump Research Service and wider work…
- Increasing heat pump system efficiency & cutting upfront cost: The Japanese Next Generation Heat Pump project (led by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation - NEDO), has already made steps in this direction in line with targets of 50% efficiency increase and 75% cost reduction by 2030.
- Pushing the boundaries of heat pumps into new applications in Japan: Another NEDO demonstration project is testing the use of new heat sources such as waste heat from sewage systems in urban areas.
- China playing Japan and Europe at their own game - advancing inverter technology, ground-source heat pumps and domestic hot water heat pumps. Technology in China is moving fast, and efficiencies will catch up. The emergence of Chinese DHW HPs we have discussed in a previous blog.
- The R&D emerging from South Korea is driven largely by its immediate challenge of keeping the lights on: It has already experienced electricity shortages due to the rapidly increasing peak demand and declining capacity reserve margin. Demand response – potentially with heat pumps – is identified as a key mechanism through which to reduce the scale of this challenge. Incidentally, South Korea has joined the UK (in work being carried out by Delta-ee) & others in IEA HPP Annex 42 to share learnings on the use of heat pumps for such load management applications.