18 May 2017
Inverter driven, variable capacity heat pumps are being developed with an array of attributes that enable the heating & cooling electric load to be an integral part of an integrated energy network. Higher heating capacity and flexibility of heating supply air temperature, maintained at low outdoor temperatures, allows for heat pump use in traditionally fossil heated locations. Given the widespread historical use of fossil based heating in the northern tier of the United States, the new availability of heat pumps for this market segment could prove to be transformative. There are many market hurdles to such a transformation, starting with the inertia of the existing housing stock and the manufacturing and distribution networks of fossil based systems. In the southern tier of the U.S., higher heating capacity allows heat pumps to be deployed without need for secondary electric heat. This has profound implications for reducing winter peak loads in the southern states, which can in turn affect needs and design of the generation & transmission systems. Communications connectivity is another key attribute of advanced heat pump systems which enables flexibility of the electric load. Flexibility of delivered capacity, and the corresponding power draw, can provide a new tool for more effective demand response, in both the summer and winter. It can also be a tool for adapting to intermittent generation by renewable sources. This paper explores the potential of the next-generation of variable capacity heat pumps being introduced in the United States market, with the perspective of the electric utility system, for a variety of use-cases.