Heat pumps are a versatile, renewable energy technology that allows the heat from the air, water and soil as well as industrial waste heat to be harnessed. Their areas of application include the environmentally friendly heating and cooling of buildings, the optimised supply of heat and refrigeration via thermal networks and the efficient use of energy in industrial and commercial companies. The technology has the potential to play a significant role in improving energy efficiency, increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the energy supply mix and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
International collaboration on researching, developing, trialling and launching this technology on the market is being stepped up as part of the IEA technology collaboration programme Heat Pump Technologies (HPT TCP). The research is focusing on areas including efficient and competitive technologies for heating, cooling and air-conditioning, flexible system solutions, development opportunities in the field of digitalisation and opening up new markets and applications in the automotive, industrial and consumer goods sectors. Disseminating the latest research findings is an important aspect.
In industry, the use of heat pumps allows to integrate unused flows of waste heat. This helps to significantly reduce primary energy consumption and CO2 emissions in industrial processes. The IEA HPT Annex 48: Industrial Heat Pumps was geared towards overcoming existing obstacles preventing the technology from being used in industry in order to facilitate its launch onto the market. As well as economic considerations, these barriers also include technical and structural hurdles such as production safety risks and a shortage of real-life experience. For the project, over 300 examples of industrial heat pumps in action were logged and analysed in total in the participating countries – Japan, Austria, France, Switzerland, the UK and Denmark. About 70 of these applications were running at Austrian industrial companies, a sizeable number that helps to position Austria as a pioneer and to showcase efficient solutions by Austrian companies and heat pump manufacturers as well as innovative research projects. An online information platform and training documents for potential users are helping to spread the word about the project’s findings.
ThermaFLEX demonstrator – High Temperature Heat Pump
At the end of 2018, ThermaFLEX was launched as a major research and implementation project for CO2-free district heating in Austria. 27 project partners (energy suppliers, infrastructure operators, know-how and technology providers and research institutions) cooperate under the leadership of AEE INTEC in the development and implementation of concrete solutions for the flexibilization of district heating networks. The focus is on exemplary demonstrators in district heating supply areas of small, medium and large major Austrian cities.
In cooperation with Wien Energie and other research partners*, the ThermaFLEX demonstration project “High Temperature Heat Pump” is performed. In this demonstration project the approach of so-called sector coupling, i.e. the merging of various previously separate infrastructures, is followed. In the waste incineration plant Wien-Spittelau, waste heat from the flue gas condensation (latent energy) of the incineration plant will be used as energy source for a high-temperature heat pump. Taking into account the findings from the evaluation of different operating strategies, a direct feed into the primary district heating network of the City of Vienna shall be realized. The thermal capacity of the planned heat pump is about 15 MW.
* Project partners: AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC) (project lead), Wien Energie GmbH, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, TU Wien – Institute of Energy Systems and Electrical Drives
The project is carried out as part of the Green Energy Lab innovation laboratory.