Heat pumps


in Economics, The environment

David Mackay’s Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air emphasizes heat pumps as a decarbonization tool:

Notice that heat pumps offer a system that can be “better than 100%- efficient.” For example the “best gas” power station, feeding electricity to heat pumps can deliver a combination of 30%-efficient electricity and 80%- efficient heat, a “total efficiency” of 110%. No plain CHP [combined heat and power — where waste heat from energy production is used for heating] system could ever match this performance.

Let me spell this out. Heat pumps are superior in efficiency to condensing boilers, even if the heat pumps are powered by electricity from a power station burning natural gas. If you want to heat lots of buildings using natural gas, you could install condensing boilers, which are “90% efficient,” or you could send the same gas to a new gas power station making electricity and install electricity-powered heat pumps in all the buildings; the second solution’s efficiency would be somewhere between 140% and 185%. It’s not necessary to dig big holes in the garden and install underfloor heating to get the benefits of heat pumps; the best air-source heat pumps (which require just a small external box, like an air-conditioner’s) can deliver hot water to normal radiators with a coefficient of performance above 3.

There is also some evidence now that US house owners are sufficiently mindful about long-term energy costs to see their economic advantages reflected in house prices. In Nature Energy Xingchi Shen et al. conclude: “Residences with an air source heat pump enjoy a 4.3–7.1% (or US$10,400–17,000) price premium on average.” (See also)

Some of the usual impediments to environmental retrofits apply here. You generally need to pay for the system up front and then recoup savings over a long period, which means you need to be able to finance it initially. Also, there can be a lack of coordination between renters, landlords, and building owners. Still, technologically heat pumps are promising and we need non-fossil alternatives for building heating and cooling.

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Milan January 30, 2022 at 2:02 am

The European Heat Pump Outlook 2021: 2 million heat pumps within reach


In light of the publication of the final parts of the fit-for-55 package by the European Commission, we are happy to announce that 2021 was a decisive year for the energy transition and the heat pump sector.

The 2020 market was affected by the pandemic and saw only a modest 7% growth compared to 2019. In 2021, heat pump markets made a crucial recovery, growing across Europe at an unprecedented speed. Aggregated industry expert opinion hints at a market increase of more than 25% and a total sales volume exceeding 2 million units by the end of the year.

In a total heater market of 7 million units, heat pumps are representing more than 25% of annual sales. This is a great foundation for the necessary continued growth on the way to reaching the EUs energy and climate targets. Based on the Commission’s 2019 system integration strategy, more than 50 million heat pumps are needed by 2030. Sales in 2021 not only show that markets are on the right track, but also that the industry is delivering. Heat pumps are fast becoming the standard solution for new buildings. Technology development in combination with smart renovation makes the direct replacement of heaters a feasible option also in the existing buildings. It cannot be repeated often enough: ‘heat pumps work in renovation’.

. December 6, 2022 at 5:44 pm
. December 6, 2022 at 5:45 pm

Germans Have Seen the Future, and It’s a Heat Pump

The boxy machines look and function like large air-conditioners on reverse, but Germans hope they hold the key to Europe’s push for fossil-free heating.


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