Heat pumps can contribute to Decarb Cities

The DecarbCities forum, arranged by the European Heat Pump association (EHPA), took place on the 16th of May in Vienna and brought together representatives of cities, planners, the heat pump industry and other related industry.

Martin Forsén, president of the EHPA, introduced the day by telling the story about how heat pumps contributed to decarb the city of Stockholm and considerably improve the local air quality there.  Thereafter, the day was set off with explaining why cities are so important if the energy and climate ambitions are to be reached. Cities are at the centre of all the changes, since they have most emissions, most people live there, and they have most economic growth and the transformation must have innovations at its core, according to Andrea Strachinescu, Head of research and innovation and DG Energy. She also stated that digitalization must be a part of the process in the city, technology is an enabler and that we need to break all silos and build bridges, on the level of the city and energy system!

Bernd Vogle, Head of municipal department for Energy planning, City of Vienna, explained some important steps necessary to decarb cities. First of all, to “decarb”, means to electrify, to be able to use solar and wind electricity to a larger extent. In addition cities and regions must learn how to use wind and solar energy within a city, since those sources are not controllable. There must also be a shift in district heating systems to renewable and waste heat and buildings must be part of the energy system to use, produce and store electricity from renewables (e.g. by heat pumps). Heat pumps can connect the buildings to the energy system and waste heat must be used more to connect different types of buildings. City planning means energy planning!

Esa Muukka, Nivos Oy, gave a success story about using a datacenter to decarbonize of a city in Finland. 90% of the natural gas consumption had been replaced by heat from the datacenter by the energy company selling electricity to the datacenter and buying back the heat from it.

Guy Vekemans, VITO, presented several examples for new tools for decision support for retrofitting and renewal in urban districts. “Sometimes there are different ways to arrive to the same goals. And some solutions require different efforts” (see photo).

Sonny Strömberg, E.ON, talked about “Circular energy economy and cities  – from linear energy flows and to closed cycles”. He presented a new concept which is not a traditional district heating system, but a grid with a temperature of 5-40 °C working together with heat pumping technology to recovery and supply heating and cooling to buildings and processes

Jasper van den Munckhof, Energiesprong talked about “Net zero energy retrofitting with integrated energy modules for fossil free cities”. A concept has been developed where they can retrofit a house cost efficiently in one day, involving prefabricated wall and roof panels and a box containing a heat pump, a ventilation unit and some control. He clearly stated that “A heat pump is something that makes you happy!”


The Heat Pump City Award

In the end of the day winners of the different categories of the Heat Pump City of the Year were presented. Heat Pump City 2018 was awarded to the Town Hall Veere in the Netherlands, where the HVAC installation had been refurbished with a new heat pump based system. This year there was also a “special recognition prize” that was awarded to the city of Beijing and the Chinese Heat Pump Association for the large amount of heat pumps installed in the rural area of Beijing.