Heat pumps will play an important role in future heat supply in NRW. The CHP study conducted by the North Rhine-Westphalian Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection predicts that heat pumps will account for 19 per cent of all climate-neutral heat supply in NRW by 2050. Even now, heat pumps are an increasingly common replacement for conventional oil and gas heating systems in residential buildings.
Heat pumps increase the temperature of ambient heat to harness this energy, consuming electricity in the proces . They are most efficient when using ground water but also work extremely well with geothermal energy. Heat pumps can even be used with heat in the ambient air, albeit with reduced efficiency. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by heat pumps therefore depends largely on the electricity used to power them.
Heat pumps are already a climate-friendly way to supply heat to an individual building, provided that they are powered predominantly by renewable electricity (for example from its own photovoltaic system) or stored energy. For NRW’s energy system as a whole, the greater the amount of renewable energy in the energy mix, the more climate-friendly heat pumps will become.
Heat pumps can also contribute to sector coupling because they consume electrical energy to supply heat. This is referred to as “Power-to-Heat". Excess electricity (including from less predictable renewable energy sources) can be converted into heat using heat pumps and either used immediately or stored in a thermal storage system for use at a later date.