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Think about heat pumps and it might be electrically driven heat pumps that you think of first. Heat pumps can, however, be driven by heat itself rather than an electrical compressor. That’s where thermally driven heat pumps (TDHPs) come in.
And while boilers are efficient, thermally driven heat pumps are a step above, capturing the low-grade heat from the surrounding air and combining this with the efficient combustion of gaseous fuels. So, what part do thermally driven heat pumps have to play in the future of the energy transition?
The New Energy Business Model team have been gazing into their crystal ball - borrowed from the Talking New Energy team - to predict what 2021 will bring for the energy transition. As ever, they don’t agree on everything. What do you think of their predictions and what do you believe 2021 has in store? Get in touch and let us know.
Andy Bradley, Director
In discussions about decarbonising heat, we often hear people lament that heating just isn't "sexy" enough. A few months ago I was at an event where one of the UK environmental NGOs complained to a room of heating industry professionals that heat pumps are "bl**dy ugly", and don't really offer anything over gas boilers in terms of delivering comfort. Why can't we learn from the likes of Tesla or Apple, they asked, and make a product that offers a superior user experience and looks alright outside our homes?
This got me thinking about how comparable heat pumps are to electric vehicles, and to Teslas in particular. So I looked into the stats, asked the HVAC manufacturers what they thought, and debated the topic with my colleagues. There are certainly some lessons I think we can take from EVs, but there are also fundamental differences between heating and vehicles that we shouldn’t forget. In my view, all this talk of “making heat sexy” is a generally unhelpful distraction from the challenges we really need to address. Here’s why.
In my last blog, I explained why I think now is the time for air/air heat pumps (A/A HP). There are strong opportunities in the residential heating market in Europe. But in our conversations across the heating and energy industry, we still meet challenges from those not yet engaged in A/A HPs. Here are some of the major myths and challenges we hear - and why we still think A/A HPs should not be ignored.
Challenge #1: “A/AHPs are good for cooling but suboptimal as a primary heating solution”.
The market for air/air heat pumps (A/A HP) has long been established – it is a global, high volume market selling well-tested products, primarily for cooling applications (and therefore usually referred to as ‘air conditioning’). But based on our recent research under the Electrification of Heat Service we believe there is significant untapped potential for A/A HP to be used for residential heating in Europe. In some market segments, A/A HP could even threaten the incumbent hydronic systems.
So why do we think the stars are aligning for A/A HP right now in the heating market, when the technology has been around for decades? Three reasons:
The European Heat Pump Summit (powered by Chillventa) is always eagerly anticipated by the heat team at Delta-EE. This year was no exception, with a packed agenda discussing the current state of the art in the design of all types of heat pump, and applications spanning from domestic to industrial, from low temperature to high temperature, and using a wide range of refrigerants. Contributions came from further afield than just the EU with India, Japan and China being notable contributors.
Given the wide range of topics up for discussion, what were the key takeaways? My top three are given below:
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