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“Our Better Cry Heat Pump Go Go Go” - The European Heat Pump Summit 2021 - a resounding success!

Between the 26th  and 27th  of October 2021, the international world of heat pumps met in Nuremberg. Two hundred sixty experts from 26 countries participated in the seventh European Heat Pump Summit; among the participants were well-known speakers and international decision-makers from the fields of trade, industry, research, and science. The conference’s content covered a variety of themes, including current heat pump market developments, R&D topics, the development of innovative component manufacturing methods, and trends in actual heat pump application use.

Furthermore, the discussions focused on the problems and opportunities associated with refrigerants, the usage of hybrid systems, and high-temperature heat pumps. The heat pump summit is aimed mainly at technicians, product developers, policymakers, consulting engineers, component manufacturers, suppliers, researchers, investors, designers and architects, and heat pump operators in trade and industry. The overall presentations of the first and second day can be summarized as below.

Day 1

Thomas Nowak of the EHPA provided an overview of the fundamental foundations for strong heat pump friendly policies. Mr. Nowak used positive country examples to demonstrate the link between the legal framework and purchasing decisions. He iterated Beyond political goals, the immediate need for heat pump technologies as well as how the EU’s energy systems integration strategy estimated the required contribution at around 50 million heat pumps by 2030. However, he said it takes more than political goals, as recognition alone will not lead to demand. Although the IEA, in its recent “net-zero by 2050 roadmap”, emphasized heat pumps in heating and industry. It requires an economic push for private and commercial stakeholders to request the technology.

James Beal of the Department for International Trade (UK) gave an exciting presentation, demonstrating that there is considerable political backing for heat pump technologies and that the UK now has a heat pump first policy to help the transition to the decarbonization of buildings by 2050. The heat pump market in the United Kingdom is rapidly expanding, providing the country confidence in a stable supply chain that will allow for a faster upswing. The UK heat strategy, which was just issued recently, also demonstrates the variety of funds available for innovative testing and development of new, more efficient, and lower GWP heat pumps, with the goal of speeding up heat pump installations. In order to identify and investigate the major motivations in investment decisions in combating climate change and speeding the deployment of heat pump technologies, the HPC by IEA has been at the forefront of this discussions and recently organized a successful workshop on “Investors’ role in accelerating the deployment of heat pumping technologies; similarly, James has talked about how the UK Government is also keen to enable investment in this sector. Using the lessons learned from the gas boilers, his presentation showed that to capture the dominant market share, the UK aims to have at least three major heat pumps factories in the next few years.

A presentation by Prof Yunho Hwang shows the world’s cooling demand will increase by 2.7 for the next 30 years, an excellent reason to develop more innovative energy-efficient heat pump technologies which use low GWP refrigerant solutions to R410A, such as natural refrigerants and newly-identified synthetic refrigerants. Researches are being explored in Annex 54 “Heat pump systems with low GWP refrigerants“ of the Technology Collaboration Programme Heat Pumping Technology (HPT TCP) by IEA. In addition, his presentation provided an update of Annex 54 activities. His findings showed a comprehensive review of the R&D progress on components using low-GWP refrigerants for residential applications.

Despite the advantages heat pumps provide in CO2 emission reduction, the presentations from ZIEHL-ABEGG-Group Michael Kraus highlighted the importance of acoustic emissions to increase the acceptance of heat pumps, and noise regulations often limit the full-load operation of fans, resulting in unfavorable duty points of the heat pump. The presentation introduced the latest development in axial fan technology, which can address both challenges to achieve the lowest possible noise level, as well as the lowest tonality in that application to avoid part-load operation overnight or reduce the related power loss. More research on the Acoustic Signature of Heat Pumps has been conducted in Annex 51 “Acoustic signatures of heat pumps” of HPT TCP by IEA. Similarly, Enrico Fraccari of Emerson discussed the relevance of acoustic simulation in evaluating the impact of design modifications on the sound level of compressors in order to increase the acceptance and minimize noise annoyance. His talk showed a lower sound technology feature would position the heat pump manufacturer to achieve long-term sound reduction requirements at highly optimized applied costs versus the current technologies. According to his presentation, Emerson uses acoustic simulations to support the industry to reduce the sound level and the sound quality of scroll compressors.

Day 2

Heat pumps can be designed to meet demand by enabling real-time energy efficiency intelligently, flexible use of electricity optimized load profiles, and optimizing in terms of comfort and operating costs, resulting in emissions reduction from the building sector by approximately 350 Mt CO2 by 2050, according to Dr. Veronika of the AIT Institute of Technology. Veronika highlighted in addition to the classic application fields of logistics; industrial IoT platforms are increasingly being used for online monitoring of production facilities and cross-location energy management. The presentation provided an overview of the work of the IEA HPT Annex 56 “Internet of Things for Heat Pumps” project that aims to survey the opportunities and challenges of IoT-enabled heat pumps for household, commercial and industrial applications.

Dr-Ing Marek Miara of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE discussed the usage of heat pumps in multi-family buildings, including feasible solutions and instances of implementation. The wide range of multi-family buildings and their characteristics allow for a choice of heat pump-based technical solutions. HPT TCP Annex 50 “Heat Pumps in Multi-Family Buildings for space heating and DHW” proposed a comprehensive presentation of the results that will enable audiences with varying levels of technical understanding to comprehend the spectrum of heat pump applications in multi-family buildings. Marek highlighted the importance of continuing the research; therefore, efforts are being made to continue the work begun during Annex 50 into the next Annex, which will hopefully start soon. For more projects on heat pumps in Multi-family buildings, see Annex 50 of the HPT TCP by the IEA.

Development and prospects of high-temperature heat pumps (HTHP) Dr. Benjamin Zuhlsdorf’s talk focused on the overview of the current developments, trends, and future of HTHP with supply temperatures above 100 °C. To fully realize the potential of HTHP, all stakeholders require a common understanding of the technology. His presentation demonstrated that HTHPs have significant potential, with rapid technology uptake expected from 2025 to 2030; however, a diverse range of technologies is required to provide competitive solutions, process integration and decarbonization strategies are also critical for optimal performance, and multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral RD&D is needed for exploiting the technology potential. His talk was based on the currently ongoing Annex 58 about HighTemperature Heat Pumps as part of the IEA Technology Collaboration Programme on Heat Pumping Technologies.

Dr. Michael Lauermann of the Austrian Institute of Technology described heat pumps for drying (AIT), a new Annex in the Technology Collaboration Programme on Heat Pumping Technologies by IEA. He discussed that heat pumps are relevant for drying in addition to heating, cooling, and hot water demands, according to the main high-level points addressed. He demonstrated that energy savings of up to 80% could be realized by including heat pumps in the drying process.

The long-term performance of heat pump systems installed in Sweden was presented by Tommy Walfridson of the Swedish Research Institutes (RISE); this project is part of the IEA HPT TCP Annex 52 work. Through the analysis of historical performance data, the impact of various interventions on system performance was determined. His findings revealed important information on factors such as heat pump design and operation, as well as poor system control, which all play a role in the overall performance of a heat pump.

Dr. Caroline Haglund Stignor from RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and Peter Wagener of BDH b.v. gave the last two thought-provoking talks on Comfort and Climate Box (CCB). Their presentation highlighted the importance of heat pump, PV and storage integration to accelerate the deployment of heat pump installation. The CCB system includes a heat pump in combination with storage and integrated intelligent control. This research is part of the international collaboration programme HPT Annex 55. The Swedish research project has developed concept solutions for three types of CCB and a demonstration prototype to provide a further research analysis.

Dr. Rainer Jakobs, the technical coordinator of the European Heat Pump Summit and Chillventa CONGRESS, concluded the two-day heat pump summit by thanking the presenters for their hard work, the moderators for their excellent job moderating the sessions, and finally, the audience for attending the physical event against all odds.