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IEA Conference: Heat pumps offer huge potential

23 May 2008

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More than 400 attendees met in Zürich to discuss latest technical advances and challenges facing the heat pump industry. Several key presentations focused on CO2 units as a cost-competitive and efficient way to replace traditional heating solutions.
Heat pumps could be a key solution to reduce emissions in the energy-intensive building sector, if governments and industry increase their joint efforts in promoting this technology on a global scale. This emerged as a key message from the 9th International Energy Agency (IEA) Heat Pump Conference, held from 20-22 in Zürich, Switzerland. 447 manufacturers, researchers, policy makers, and environmental analysts from 36 countries meeting at the HPC 2008 discussed not only technical progress, costs and environmental benefits of heat pumps, but also key policy drivers in different world regions:


International: Lawmakers and industry associations agreed that heat pumps are now one of the most cost-effective ways to replace fossil-fuelled heating equipment, like gas and oil boilers. According to the IEA, payback time for some heat pumps can be only 3 months to 2 years. However, consumers do not know about this. If half of all homes in OECD countries would use heat pumps, energy efficiency could be improved by 25% by 2020. The agency therefore insisted that the industry needs pace-setting countries that would spur the use of heat pumps not only in OECD nations but also in developing countries. The IEA has therefore already started an “outreach programme” to involve China, South Africa, Brazil, India and Russia. The IEA view was supported by the latest IPCC report identifying the building sector as the single most important area for cost-effective GHG mitigation, being much less costly than the transport sector.

EU: The European Union is now the key driving force for heat pumps at the international level, promoting their use in national programmes and several EU initiatives. Heat pumps are currently mentioned in the latest European Commission proposal for the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) Directive promoting a 20% use of RES by 2020. However, the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) asked the industry to more effectively demonstrate their benefits to legislators. Using 70 million heat pumps by 2020 in the EU alone would reduce electricity consumption by 900,000 TeraWatt hours per year.

USA: The industry association ASHRAE urged their members from the air-conditioning and heating sector to “be more innovative and daring in their thinking”, as the building sector has the largest potential to reduce GHG emissions in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently working on a labeling directive following the EU example and is promoting zero-emissions buildings by 2012.


Mayekawa MYCOM: The Japanese supplier of commercial heat pumps presented its CO2 heat pump installed in a Swiss sports training facility. Operating since October 2005, the 60 kWh capacity hot water heater has proved a success with significantly reduced costs and emissions. Compared to a traditional oil boiler, MYCOM’s air source heat pump emitted 50% less CO2 emissions than the boiler at 60% lower running costs in 2007 (see photo gallery). During a technical tour to the Niederhasli Soccer Club on 21 May, attendees could get first-hand experience with MYCOM’s unit providing heating and sanitary hot water.

TEPCO: By combining inexpensive electricity over night and high efficiency, a CO2 hot water heater in Japan (Eco Cute) leads to running costs of only 1,000 yen or 6 € per month. This was confirmed by Kazutoshi Kusakari from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). According to latest sales figures, in 2007 fiscal year alone, 413,000 Eco-Cute models were sold in Japan, amounting to a total of 1.24 million sold units since 2001. In the same period, Japanese only bought 790,000 gas water heaters, confirming CO2 heat pumps as the favourite consumer choice. Within 7 years of commercialization, Eco Cute models have increased their Coefficient of Performance (COP) from 3.5 to 5.1 while reducing noise levels from 45 dB to 38 dB. In Kusakari’s words, Eco Cute has grown from a “baby” to a “super school kid”, meaning there is huge potential for improvement. In April 2008, all Eco Cute catalogues started to indicate the “Annual Performance Factor” (APF) of hot water supply and the COP to evaluate the energy savings closer to user conditions throughout the whole year. (see gallery)

SINTEF: Petter Neksa gave a keynote speech about the global benefits of CO2 in various applications. Starting with Mobile Air Conditioning, Neksa highlighted the decision of German carmakers to replace R-134a with R744. In Commercial Refrigeration, CO2 has still great potential for the integration with heat recovery. Residential Air Conditioning and Heat Pump systems using split units outperformed R-410a models for the heating mode, even at high ambient temperatures (Athens). In cooling mode, CO2 is already competitive for lower ambient temperatures. Neksa listed mobile heat pumps (cars), transport refrigeration (trucks, containers, marine), residential space heating, and heat pump dryers as projects currently under development for transcritical CO2 systems. (see gallery)

Poster sessions: During the daily exhibition of posters, the Austrian engineering company The Virtual Vehicle presented its project on reversible MAC systems with heat pump function. The Japanese manufacturer itomic showed latest updates on the popularization of Eco Cute heat pumps in Japan, including new features like an independent heat pump unit operation, hybrid function, and integrated learning module. Daikin showed its altherma heat pump model, normally using HFCs, in a CO2 version. (all gallery)


The HPC 2008 is the 9th in a series of conferences under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Heat Pump Programme. Participants could choose among 72 presentations and keynotes, as well as more than 100 posters during the poster sessions. The last event was held in 2005 in Las Vegas, USA. Heat Pump technologies include heat pump, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment and systems for residential, commercial, industrial, and district heating/cooling applications.


Graham Baird

I would like more info on R744
added 2010-06-26 02:04:41

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