Strategic research and innovation agenda for heat pumps

Heat Pumping technologies use relatively simple thermodynamic cycles to exploit the low temperature renewable heat sources and consequently provide efficient heating and cooling services for building and industries. When it is combined to renewable electricity technologies such as Hydropower, solar PV and wind, it has a potential to provide fully renewable heating and cooling a mass scale. The technology itself is relatively mature and widely used in many locations such as Nordic countries. However, there is still a lot to do to remove the techno-economic barriers for mass market deployment of the heat pump technology at the global level. As such, a System of Systems perspective is needed, that can cope with the growing complexity of the challenges ahead. To unleash the full potential of heat pump systems, we need to think beyond the box of the technology itself. The research and innovation agenda should connect heat pumps to the other parts of the system to meet the ultimate goal of a whole. As heat pumps couple heating, cooling, and electricity sectors, inter- and trans-disciplinary research plays a pivotal role in harnessing the potential of the technology in different contexts. Heat pumps can offer demand flexibility in the future smart grids; they can interact with solar PV, electric vehicles and wind turbines at building, district and city levels to ultimately maximize the share of renewables and minimize CO2 emissions; they can simultaneously meet the heating and cooling demand in their local area and beyond; they can utilize the waste heat in the industrial processes and provide more efficient heat for non-space heating purposes such as drying, cleaning, food processing, and much more, with the Research and Innovation Agenda, showcasing a non-exhaustive list of priorities and topics, that are based on a Heat Pump Life Cycle Assessment (HP LCA) and highlight:
  1. Demand from the end user perspective (e.g. User perception pertaining to affordability, reliability and easy selection of compatible designs of HPs; Communication strategy;
  2. Demo sites; One Stop Shops (new buildings, renovation, industrial); Business models; Sector coupling and flexibility);
  3. Design (e.g. Modularity; Circularity; Efficiency; Connectivity (to other technologies & storage mediums) and Health);
  4. Manufacturing (e.g. Advanced computer modelling and simulations; Mass production & 3D printing; Integrated connectivity; Standardisation of components and connectors ; Supply chain resilience and Upgrading the skills of manufacturing personnel);
  5. Installation (e.g. Skill certification and up-skilling of installers; Plug and play (software and hardware); Ease of installation and adaptability to location/requirements);
  6. Maintenance and Operation (e.g. Easy to use and understand User Interface (UI); Internet of Things (IoT) data gathering and cloud connectivity; Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms for optimization; Software updates and remote diagnostics (predictive maintenance) ; Easy to understand status reporting);
  7. Replacement and Upgrading (e.g. Heating and Cooling as a Service (H&CS), Disposal and recycling strategy).
With these priorities, being seen (as per the picture below) in relation to each other and as a self-reinforcing circle. As the list of priorities is not exhaustive, the document will be updated as to reflect new requirements, developments and initiatives. Moreover, the document serves as a discussion starter, as per reflecting on the steps each and every stakeholder has to consider in their work (many of the ideas, already being reflected in the Horizon Europe Framework Programme, particularly: Cluster4 (CL4) Digital, Industry and Space and Cluster5 (CL5) Climate, Energy and Mobility). The document is the result of work carried out by the Heat Pump Technology Panel (HP TP) and the Research and Innovation Committee (R&I Committee), both managed by the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), with further assistance coming from EHPA members, that contributed with inputs during a dedicated breakout room as part of the EHPA Strategy meeting.