18 May 2017
Gas engine driven heat pumps (GHP) currently hold a small share of the U.S. HVAC market. This share is considerably smaller than what the full potential of GHP technology can realize. One of the main benefits of GHP technology is their better primary energy utilization mainly due to the ability to recover the engine heat. However, development and market penetration of GHP technology have been challenged by various market and technical barriers. The main barriers are high initial cost, low awareness of the technology, and poor perception. On the other hand, several opportunities arise that the GHP technology can take advantage of to increase its market share. The most direct opportunity is the abundance of relatively cheap natural gas. This translates directly into monetary savings and higher return on investment (ROI). GHPs offer the advantage of reducing the peak demand by 80% compared to electric counterpart. From the point of view of utilities, this eliminates the need for lower-efficiency peaking power plants and over-expansion only to cover maximum peak times. From the point of view of renewable customers, GHPs eliminate the need to buy power from the grid at a high price. This is especially important in hot climates with high cooling loads. When built and operated as distributed generation, GHPs can improve the reliability of power delivery to consumers. The paper discusses the challenges and opportunities as seen during the development and commercialization of two different GHP products; a 35 kW (10-ton) packaged unit and 17.5 kW (5-ton) split unit.