Market penetration and technology develoment of heat pumps can decrease electric power peaks in Sweden

Domestic heating in Sweden is today to a large extent supplied by the use of heat pumps. And most likely the share of heat pumps within the heating market will continue to grow in the coming years. Such a development gives rise to the question as to how this development will affect the future power demand, particularly in the perspective of an upcoming increase in the share of variable, non-dispatchable, electricity generation (mainly wind power) in combination with an increased electrification of other parts of the society.

In a recent study this question has been addressed. Based on an inventory of the current heat pump stock with potential development paths for their share of the heat market as well as their performance, the power demand of electricity for heating (heat pumps and electric heating) has been calculated, today and in the future.

The study also related the resulting power demand for heating purposes to other electric power demand and the electric power supply, for the situation today as well as for a future situation (2030).

Finally, it was qualitatively investigated to which extent smart control and load shifting of the electricity demand for heating could contribute to reducing the power demand in stressed situations related to the future electricity balance in Sweden.

It was found that smart control can cap peaks in the net load, as well as handling rapid variations in power supply. However, smart controls and demand flexibility will not be the only answers to the challenges associated with increased variability on the power market. There are a number of important limitations which must be taken into account, not least the time aspect, where demand flexibility does not offer the same durability as production resources. But as a complement, and as a solution with a relatively short lead time, as opposed to for instance expansion of the electricity grid where lead times generally are significant, it should be very interesting.

Even if the current incentives for demand flexibility for the power consumers are small, smart control of heat pumps and electric heating, together with other flexible power demand, constitutes an important complement in meeting the variability challenges on the future electricity market.

Read more (report in Swedish with a summary in English, p 9-11):