The Digitalization of Heat Pumps: Powering the Future with Smart Services

Heat pumps have emerged as a crucial technology in the global transition towards secure and sustainable heating. As governments worldwide commit to energy security and climate targets, heat pumps are set to become the primary means of decarbonizing space and water heating. In this article, we explore the digitalization of heat pumps and how smart services are helping the electricity grid with demand response.

The Rising Sales of Heat Pumps

The sales of heat pumps are skyrocketing, and their momentum shows no signs of slowing down. Projections indicate that the number of new heat pump installations by 2026 will match the total installations of the past decade [1]. This surge in demand reflects the increasing recognition of heat pumps as a cost-effective solution for reducing CO2 emissions and improving energy efficiency in buildings.

Ensuring Grid Stability with Smart Control Functions

The prospect of a large-scale roll-out of heat pumps raises concerns about the security and supply of electricity. However, these concerns are unfounded due to mainly two aspects [2]:

  1. The robust and interconnected nature of the EU’s electric network. Electricity operators have a track record of successfully managing millions of electric devices, and the grid is continuously updated to meet new demand requirements. 
  2. Heat pumps are three-to-five times more energy efficient than natural gas boilers or electrical resistances.
  3. Smart control functions are now embedded in heat pumps, enabling remote monitoring and maintenance services. This connectivity facilitates the integration of heat pumps with renewable electricity generation, providing flexibility to the electricity system and bolstering grid stability.

The Need for Flexible Control

While the sales of heat pumps are increasing, a study reveals that only a quarter of all heat pumps sold are connected to the internet, and most heat pumps lack the preparation for flexible control [3]. This situation hinders the ability of heat pumps to contribute to resolving peak demand on the electricity grid. To fully harness the potential of heat pumps, they need to become smart devices with a standard interface that allows for flexible control.

The Benefits of Flexible Control

Heat pumps, especially hybrid heat pumps that can switch between electricity and gas, offer flexibility that aligns with the changing supply of electricity. By adapting their output based on energy availability and prices, heat pumps ensure optimal comfort for residents while contributing to grid stability. However, this flexibility requires heat pumps to be connected to the internet and equipped with interfaces that enable remote and flexible control. Read more on our thoughts to speed up heat pumps API development here.

Next Steps 

To prevent the majority of heat pumps from becoming offline devices and to maximize their contribution to the electricity grid, concerted action is needed. Some organizations have recognized the importance of introducing flexibility interfaces in new heat pumps to ensure their compatibility with the evolving energy landscape. As a third party software developer, we’re actively working with relevant parties to make the vision of smart and flexible heat pumps a reality.

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