How Heat Pumps Achieve Energy Savings and CO2 Emissions Reduction
Heat pumps and energy saving
This section gives a brief introduction to heat pumps. Based on six basic facts about heat supply the value of heat pumps is discussed. It is argued that heat pumps are very energy efficient, and therefore environmentally benign.
Six basic facts about heating
Through this unique ability, heat pumps can radically improve the energy efficiency and environmental value of any heating system that is driven by primary energy resources such as fuel or power. The following six facts should be considered when any heat supply system is designed:
direct combustion to generate heat is never the most efficient use of fuel;
heat pumps are more efficient because they use renewable energy in the form of low-temperature heat;
if the fuel used by conventional boilers were redirected to supply power for electric heat pumps, about 35-50% less fuel would be needed, resulting in 35-50% less emissions;
around 50% savings are made when electric heat pumps are driven by CHP (combined heat and power or cogeneration) systems;
whether fossil fuels, nuclear energy, or renewable power is used to generate electricity, electric heat pumps make far better use of these resources than do resistance heaters;
the fuel consumption, and consequently the emissions rate, of an absorption or gas-engine heat pump is about 35-50% less than that of a conventional boiler.
A large and worldwide potential
If it is further considered that heat pumps can meet space heating, hot water heating, and cooling needs in all types of buildings, as well as many industrial heating requirements, it is clear that heat pumps have a large and worldwide potential.
Of the global CO2 emissions that amounted to 22 billion tonnes in 1997, heating in building causes 30% and industrial activities cause 35%. The potential CO2 emissions reduction with heat pumps is calculated as follows:
6.6 billion tonnes CO2 come from heating buildings (30% of total emissions).
1.0 billion tonnes can be saved by residential and commercial heat pumps, assuming that they can provide 30% of the heating for buildings, with an emission reduction of 50%.
A minimum of 0.2 billion tonnes can be saved by industrial heat pumps (estimation based on a study by Annex 21).