Large-scale heat pumps could be used at power plants to bolster the energy supply and help the industry shift away from gas. In a joint research project commissioned by the German Energy Efficiency Association (AGFW), a consortium of energy suppliers and scientific institutes plan to test the practical use and application of heat pumps in supporting operations at power plants in Berlin, Stuttgart, Mannheim and Rosenheim.
The Reallab project was one of the winners of the 2019 Reallabore der Energiewende (Real Labs of the Energy Transition) competition and is funded with a total of EUR 45 million, with EUR 21 million coming from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and the rest contributed by the partners including the four regions’ utilities providers and two research bodies – the Institute of Energy Economics and Rational Energy Use (IER) at the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).
Large-scale heat pumps are the most efficient technology to support sector coupling and offer several advantages in plant operations. Heiko Huther, head of Research and Development at AGFW, explains why they are such a valuable industrial application in an article on the online news platform : "Large-scale heat pumps can help reduce price increases, since you no longer depend on just one fuel and its possible price fluctuations. Large heat pumps are therefore a flexibility-enhancing technology. This is a particularly important approach these days,” he says. They also enable the use of waste process heat.
The heat pumps will be tailored to the needs of each energy supplier. For example, MVV Energie AG has built a pump on the grounds of the large power plant Grosskraftwerk Mannheim AG to exploit the potential of river heat and Stadtwerke Lemgo GmbH will also be constructing a river heat pump.