Vattenfall and its technology provider subsidiary, Feenstra, recently launched a new high-temperature heat pump. One of the pitfalls of having a heat pump is the need for additional upgrades to heating systems to accommodate their lower temperature, particularly for insulation. This not only increases the cost but also adds to the complexity of switching from a traditional gas boiler to a lower carbon solution. Heat pumps heat water to between 45° and 55°C, while gas boilers and high-temperature heat pumps sit between 60° and 80°C.
The Swedish multinational power company has launched a new heat pump, which can thus offer an excellent alternative to conventional boilers, especially for suburban and rural households. These high-temperature heat pumps can directly replace gas boilers without the need for additional changes to the property. Vattenfall views district heating as the most cost-effective solution for densely populated areas and is involved in several such projects in the UK, as well as Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark.
Mark Anderson, commercial and development director at Vattenfall Heat UK said in a statement – “The high-temperature heat pump solution is innovative, simple to install and could be the solution to help decarbonise homes in the UK that are heated using traditional gas boilers. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to decarbonising heating. Removing emissions from heating relies on us making better use of waste heat from all sources and installing the right technologies in the correct locations of the country, where they will be most effective and affordable.”
Heating currently entails as much as 37% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and heat pumps have been identified as a key solution to tackle this. The Heat and Buildings Strategy released in October 2021 cemented the roll of heat pumps as key for decarbonisation, thereby unveiling plans for a government grant of £5,000 for the installation of the technology from April 2022. The government also released new regulations that dictated that emissions must be reduced by 27%, pointing to heat pumps along with other low carbon technologies like solar panels, as key to this. A popular study by the Electrification of Heat Project discovered that heat pumps were suitable for all property types and architectural eras, although some challenges remain with pre-1945 property installations. The study reiterates the suggestion that heat pumps are only effective in modern, and heavily insulated, properties.
Put simply, one of the greatest advantages of such a higher temperature of gas boilers is that it will mitigate the need for consumers to retrofit their homes to improve energy efficiency before installing a heat pump. Vattenfall is confident that this could enable a swifter and cheaper transition away from gas boilers. The company notably has an overarching sustainability vision to “enable fossil-fuel-free living within a generation” in the markets in which it operates in the future years to come.