Using heat pumps and thermal storage to decarbonise heat networks

What are heat networks operators doing to decarbonise their business? In many cases, decarbonisation of heat networks revolve around replacing fossil fuel energy generating assets with renewable energy sources, such as waste heat, biomass or energy from waste. However, a growing discussion is about utilising heat pumps and thermal storage in heat networks.

Swedish / British knowledge sharing

In August 2017, Swedish and British researchers, ESCOs, consultants and technology suppliers assessed the risks and benefits of integrating and utilising heat pump technology and thermal storage in heat networks during a workshop in London. Sweden has experienced a strong growth in the heat pump market in recent years and approximately 25% of detached housing is heated by heat pumps today. There is also a widespread use of thermal energy storage (TES) in Swedish heat networks.

The meeting aimed at identifying best practice case studies and key learnings from each stage in a project, including design, installation, commissioning and operation of heat pumps and thermal storage. The key learnings from the workshop, regarding the integration of heat pumps and thermal storage, can be summarised as follows.

Heat pumps:

  • To achieve efficient design and operation of heat pumps, low return temperatures are necessary. The pump will never be as efficient with high temperatures above 60 °C.
  • It is important to consider the possibility to lower the temperature if the main customer is domestic.
  • Building integration is key when installing heat pumps.
  • Considering the heating and cooling demand at the same time and the possibility of connecting the cooling and heating sides.

Thermal storage:

  • Thermal storage should effectively be used to smooth peaks, including night/day peaks, peaks between days, weekends or seasonal transition periods.
  • It is important to evaluate the many design options, e.g. right sizing and location of the thermal storages. Most thermal storage is too small in relation to the network they supply.
  • Start exploring the options of using buildings connected to the network as thermal storages through an early engagement in energy efficiency discussions with the customers.



More information:

Read more about heat pumps and thermal storage in the report The Heating Market in Sweden. Swedish participants during the workshop was Sweco, FVB, Research Institutes of Sweden, the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Halmstad University, SWEP and Norrenergi, Business Sweden and the Swedish Energy Agency.

Sweden is at the forefront of decentralised heat networks technology. Our aim for “Heat Networks – Sustainability by Sweden” is to facilitate knowledge sharing between British and Swedish stakeholders and develop and encourage environmental and economic best practice.

To find out how we can help you and your organisation, please contact our London-based “Heat Networks” team. We can introduce you to leading consultants, suppliers of technology and services who will be pleased to share know-how of the development of heat network solutions.

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