The number of large-scale heat pump projects is on the rise, according to Raymond Decorvet, Senior Account Executive at MAN Energy Solutions, a German manufacturer of high-temperature CO2 (R744) heat pumps and other industrial energy systems.
While five years ago, the largest heat pump projects were 5–10MW (1,421–2,843TR) in capacity, the demand for high-capacity projects is growing. In 2020, MAN began working on a 50MW (14,217TR)-capacity district heating network in Esbjerg, Denmark. The system, which consists of two of the manufacturer’s 30MW (7,108TR) CO2 heat pumps, was commissioned earlier this year.
MAN is also currently working on a heat pump project with a 500MW (142,173TR) output demand, he added.
Decorvet discussed this trend during his presentation in the Commercialization of Natural Refrigerant Heat Pumps session at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) Europe Summit 2023. The conference took place September 19–20 in Brussels and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com.
According to Decorvet’s presentation, 50% of global final energy consumption is used for the production of heating and cooling. Of the total heat produced, half goes to industrial processes, and half goes to space heating. Due to the fact that only 10% of heat production comes from renewable energy sources, this sector represents a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“In the industrial sector, we need to decarbonize heat production,” he said. “The clock is ticking; we have to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. We also have to invest in proven technologies like renewables, heat pumps and thermal storage.”
Waste heat recovery is also a key part to decarbonizing the sector, with around 920TWh of heat wasted across Europe that could be used as a low-carbon heat source for heat pumps.
“The clock is ticking; we have to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. We also have to invest in proven technologies like renewables, heat pumps and thermal storage.”Raymond Decorvet, MAN Energy Solutions
Originally manufacturing energy systems for the marine and oil and gas sectors, MAN started working with heat pumps in 2018 as part of its Electro-Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) systems. Due to the market not being ready for large-scale thermal energy storage, Decorvet said the company shifted its focus to large, high-temperature heat pumps. MAN has since developed a heat pump strategy in 2023.
“Heat pumps are increasingly relevant,” he explained. “They can help with decarbonization and energy security with renewables and thermal storage; it just makes sense.”
Within its heat pump strategy, MAN is focusing on the district heating, food and beverage, pulp and paper and chemical and petrochemical sectors, all of which have varying hot water and steam requirements, he added.
“Heat pumps are increasingly relevant. They can help with decarbonization and energy security with renewables and thermal storage; it just makes sense.”Raymond Decorvet, MAN Energy Solutions
According to Decorvet, MAN’s CO2 heat pumps can reach 150°C (302°F), which can meet the majority of industrial heating demand.
“Do the right thing: decarbonize and use heat pumps wherever possible over fossil fuel-based heat sources,” he said. “Don’t wait for the ‘right time’; the time is right now! You can’t go wrong by deciding to go for a heat pump. Every new heat pump is a win for the world.”
With regards to refrigerants, there is “no excuse” not to use natural refrigerants, he added.
“We have decided to go for CO2, but there is also propane [R290], isobutane [R600a] and ammonia [R717],” he explained.
To ensure the wide-scale adoption of natural refrigerant-based heat pumps, Decorvet called on manufacturers to simplify and standardize systems, as well as to shorten delivery times.