Enhance heat pump flexibility

Why is this gap important?

Greater electrification of heat (and other end uses such as space cooling) will place greater pressure on electricity systems, requiring not only improved energy efficiency but also greater flexibility through demand-side response. Markets with high shares of electric heating (e.g. France) illustrate the impact of electric heat demand during the winter and on extremely cold days. Heat pumps with high energy performance factors can help reduce the overall tendency of demand peaks, but flexibility through demand side response will still be required to shift some demand to off-peak hours.

In addition, heat pumps have the potential to provide electricity grid stabilisation in the context of grid decarbonisation, especially with increasing shares of variable renewables in the energy mix.

Technology solutions

Many manufacturers are working to include improved connectivity in new heat pump technologies, but it is still uncommon globally. Additional work is also needed to enable smart connectivity that would, for instance, use learning algorithms and network information on electricity demand/prices and weather predictions to enable greater responsiveness of heat pump equipment.

Heat pump connectivity Readiness level:

Colored bars represent the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of each technology. Learn more about TRLs

What are the leading initiatives?

Research such as in the HPT TCP Annex 42 is looking at how heat pumps can address energy supply challenges such as increasing renewable energy uptake, maintaining grid stability during extreme cold and providing flexibility to grid operators.

In parallel, the HPT TCP Annex 47 studies synergies between heat pumps and the 4th or 5th generation of district heating systems to enable heat recovery and use of low-grade heat sources. In many cases, the design and operations of the different parts of the system (including for distributed and central heat pumps) are key to exploit the demand-side flexibility potential to the fullest.