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Large heat pumps in Swedish district heating systems

Averfalk, Helge, Ingvarsson, Paul, Persson, Urban, Gong, Mei, Werner, Sven

Article in journal (Refereegranskat)


Power-to-heat solutions like heat pumps and electric boilers are foreseen to be possible future tools to stabilise international power markets with high proportions of variable power supply. Temporary low cost electricity can be used for heat generation at times with high availability of wind and solar power through substitution of ordinary heat supply, hence contributing to increased energy system sustainability. Power-to-heat installations in district heating systems are competitive due to low specific investment and installation costs for large electric boilers, heat pumps, and heat storages. Several large-scale heat pumps were installed in Swedish district heating systems during the 1980s, since a national electricity surplus from new nuclear power existed for some years. The aim of this paper is to summarise the accumulated operation experiences from these large Swedish heat pumps to support and facilitate planning of future power-to-heat solutions with heat pumps in district heating systems. Gained experiences consider; installed capacities, capacity utilisation, heat sources used, refrigerant replacements, refrigerant leakages, and wear of mechanical components. The major conclusion is that many of the large thirty-year-old heat pumps are still in operation, but with reduced capacity utilisation due to internal competition from waste and biomass cogeneration plants in the district heating systems.

Key words: Power-to-heat; Heat pumps; District heating; District cooling; Integrated energy systems

Cite: Averfalk, Helge, Ingvarsson, Paul, Persson, Urban, Gong, Mei & Werner, Sven, Large heat pumps in Swedish district heating systems, Renewable & sustainable energy reviews., 79, s. 1275-1284, 2017