Industrial heat pumps
Industrial facilities traditionally rely on fossil fuel boilers for steam generation or hot water heating. In the modern age, there is no place for technologies that harm nature. Clean heat is an opportunity for businesses to pursue their sustainability targets.
Is there a replacement solution to the outdated fossil fuel heating?
Heat pumps have been established for more than 150 years and are a well-proven technology. Nowadays a rapid growth in heat pump deployment is evident, especially in Europe. This century might be the golden age for this technology, as it becomes recognized by a wider population due to increased awareness of sustainability.
How does it work?
In principle heat pump is converting heat from the source to the demand temperature. Most commonly it is driven by electricity, consuming only a fraction of what it generates as heating energy.
The green aspect is that the majority of delivered energy by the heat pump stems from a renewable source like air, ground, or industrial waste heat. Electricity is needed to drive the process and is eventually also converted into heat.
Efficiency of a heat pump
Heat pump efficiency is defined as Coefficient of Performance (COP).
COP = Heat delivered ÷ Electricity used
COP = 1000 MWhheat ÷ 333 MWhelectricity = 3
An example of energy performance between a heat pump and a boiler is shown in the chart.
The following assumptions are considered:
- In both cases, the amount of delivered heat is identical - 1000 MWh/year
- For an industrial heat pump COP of 3 is a reasonable assumption for a quick estimate
- A very efficient boiler should have an efficiency of around 0.95 (95%)
Heat pump economics
The chart shows that heat pump has a positive efficiency, therefore it uses less input energy than the energy it delivers. A heat pump definitely saves energy, while economic feasibility is dependent on energy tariff ratio. In fact, 1 kWh of electricity will most likely be more expensive than 1 kWh of the alternative heat source. When evaluating heat pump economic performance, a crucial impact has the tariff ratio of electricity vs the alternative heat source.
Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation depend on local power plants. European Environment Agency estimated average for EU27 countries is 230 gCO2 emitted per kWh of electrical energy produced. GHG emissions for gas, according to European Commission is 202 gCO2 per kWh of gas energy value. To understand the carbon footprint of a heat pump and compare it to a gas boiler, the same energy usage as in the previous example is used, together with reference carbon intensity values.
Heat pump technology contains a fluid that is in a closed system, however inevitably a small fraction of it is leaking. While there are no issues with the performance, fluids that escape to the atmosphere have a negative effect on global warming.
Natural refrigerants like carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia (NH3), or hydrocarbons have a minimum negative impact on the environment and should be chosen in a heat pump system instead of synthetic substances. This guarantees a fully sustainable solution in a long term. More about why natural refrigerants shall be chosen can be found here.
EKA is a joint Scandinavian and Baltic company with more than 10 years of experience in heat pumps, refrigeration, and heat recovery. We help companies to achieve significant savings and design cost-efficient and sustainable systems for the future.
Don’t wait for official restrictions on your heating system – choose cost-efficient sustainability today!