Heat pumps need to be up there with EVs and Solar
Solving climate change and our energy challenges is going to be down to a handful of key technologies but in Australia one of them heat pumps just isn’t on the agenda.
The shortlist in energy including all those we’re familiar with is. Solar, Wind Power, Battery Storage (ie Tesla big batteries) , Pumped Hydro Storage (Snowy Hydro but hopefully something cheaper) Electrification of existing and new rail corridors, High speed trains and Electric Vehicles. Heat pumps however aren’t rating despite the fact that heating and cooling water and spaces in house holds is the single biggest energy consumer in that sector, and houses are big we all live in one. Further to that a lot of heat used in commerce and industry is so called low temperature low grade heat upto 200C. In this application single stage and two stage heat pump systems can deliver hot water with significant energy savings. Combine this with solar and we’re ready to go 100% renewable energy. Without heatpumps the task at the most difficult times to extract renewable energy from the environment can be 400-500% more difficult than with heat pumps in the equation. That’s a massive number 75% savings with heat pumps to make delivering a renewable energy economy 75% easier.
The great news is that heat pumps are here, they’re often already installed but only being used for cooling when they could also be used for heating and they’re already economic. Households today when choosing between a range of heating options. Electric portable heaters, gas central heating, gas wall heaters, hydronic gas heating and heatpumps are choosing heat pumps in significant numbers. But not enough number. We actually need all those other options that are not efficient such as the electric resistive heating or involve combusting gas to come over to heatpumps technology. There are a number of hard and soft options to achieve this.
Top runner approach
Simply a tax can be put on the sale of the units we don’t want, so a gas ducted heating system cops a significant tax which escalates over time until no one buys them anymore. That money is doled out to the best most efficient options, (obviously heat pumps) The best contenders above a forever rising threshold get the spoils. In the end the worst products fall out of the market and more excellent products enter the market. With this serious incentive program comes economies of scale and those super-efficient products which today command a price premium will come down the cost curve.
Heat pumps technology in simple terms is your fridge turned inside out. Outdoor ambient air that is drawn into the outdoor unit is rejected as cold air that heat being transferred via piped refrigerant gases (hot and cold high and low pressure) into the indoor unit where a fan blows that heat into your house. While a fridge blows hot air out and cools the space inside the fridge – that is of course how a heat pump works in Air conditioning mode.
Heatpumps are cool and they’re the best, if you’re Canadian, North American, a New Zealander or European you’ll have heard of heatpumps and no that every second house has one and every new house is getting one. If you’re in Australia this article might be your first introduction. Well now we need heatpumps on everyones lips as a solution to climate change. That means if you’ve got the get up and go you need to tell your friends family and make a lot of noise in the direction of politicians and the media.