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Opportunities for applying high temperature heat pumps in industry

Panel: 4. Technology, products and systems

Jonathan Jutsen, RACE for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre, Australia
Jarrod Leak, Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity, Australia


Process heating is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in manufacturing industry. So, to decarbonise this sector of industry it will be necessary to eliminate fossil fuel usage by one of the following approaches:

1. Replace process heating with a non-thermal process supplied with renewable electricity

2. Provide the process heat with high temperature heat pumps supplied with renewable electricity

3. Replace the fossil fuel with biogas or biomass (or green hydrogen).

The Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) conducted analysis of the first 2 options for Australia to identify the most effective option for a range of industries, aiming to achieve lower fossil carbon emissions in a cost-effective way. We were also looking to implement technologies which would be compatible with an Industry 4.0 manufacturing environment – flexible, modular and responsive. Replacing central boilers and steam systems with distributed heat pumps achieves all these outcomes. So, we conducted a feasibility study for applying high temperature heat pumps in the manufacturing industry and identified a number of opportunities for cost-effective implementation of this technology. This was based on typical electricity and gas prices in Australia for medium-large industry at the time of 15–17.5c/kWh for power and $10–12/GJ of gas.

The Alliance is currently conducting a renewable process heating program with funding support from the Australian renewable agency ARENA, with a focus on high temperature heat pumps. Under the program, 10 pre-feasibility studies have been completed for heat pump applications in a range of manufacturing plants for process heating up to 95°C, of which 4 have been the object of complete feasibility studies. Several of these companies will apply for ARENA capital funding for up to 50% of the project cost. ARENA has recently extended the project to include 20 pre-feasibility studies and temperatures up to 120°C, as well as up to 10 feasibility studies. Of the 4 initial feasibility studies, 3 looked promising pre-COVID 19, and the largest one was likely to approach ARENA for capital funding support.

We will present the results of this work and show how this supports our desk-top analysis of the opportunity to decarbonise process heating using high-temperature heat pump technologies.

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Download this presentation as pdf: 4-003-20_Jutsen_pre.pdf