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Industrial heat pumps can work
Bridging the gap between finance and sustainability

Industrial heat pumps can work

Industrial heat pumps not only offer the opportunity to decarbonise many industries, but they also could become a multi billion $ investment opportunity.

But - we need to address the relatively high price of electricity.

Summary: Industrial heat pumps not only offer the opportunity to decarbonise many industries, but they also could become a multi billion $ investment opportunity. At present, heat pumps are really only commercially available for heats up to 200 degrees C. But even at this level they can still decarbonise up to nearly 40% of global industrial heat energy use.

Why this is important: Heavy industry is responsible for approximately 20 per cent of global CO₂ emissions. If we ignore for a moment the feedstock for chemical plants, approximately three quarters of the energy requirement is for heat or reductants (chemical reducing agent). But, there are two main barriers to adaption. One is the cost of electricity, the other is the chicken and egg situation. There are few suppliers, so most plant process operators have limited knowledge of what IHP's can deliver. And because most process companies don't ask for heat pumps, there are only a few suppliers .... and round we go again.



The details

Summary of a study published in Energy Efficiency

  • In the US , industrial thermal processes accounted for more than two-thirds of the total final energy demand in 2021. Electrification technologies like industrial heat pumps are suitable for the process heat supply to several industrial unit operations in a sustainable way while also improving overall energy efficiency. The study shows that c. 36% of the sectors projected energy demand can be met through heat pumps, reducing CO2 emissions by c. 71%. This would equate to an end market of 15GW, or c. 6,000 heat pumps, with an investment requirement of close to $7bn. But, given the way that electricity is currently priced against gas, and the low heat source temperatures, this is likely to result in higher energy costs. This is a solvable problem.

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