Assessing heat pumps as flexible load

Hong, Jun and Kelly, Nicolas and Thomson, M. and Richardson, I. (2013) Assessing heat pumps as flexible load. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy, 227 (1). pp. 30-42. ISSN 0957-6509 (

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In a future power system featuring significant renewable generation, the ability to manipulate domestic demand through the flexible operation of heat-led technologies such as heat pumps and micro-combined heat and power could be a critical factor in providing a secure and stable supply of electrical energy. Using a simulation-based approach, this study examined the linkage between the thermal characteristics of buildings and the scope for flexibility in the operating times of air source heat pumps. This was assessed against the resulting impact on the end-user’s comfort and convenience. A detached dwelling and flat were modelled in detail along with their heating system in order to determine the temporal shift achievable in the heat pump operating times for present-day and future dwellings. The simulation results indicated that the scope for shifting heat pump operating times in the existing building stock was limited, with time shifts of only 1–2 h achieved before there was a serious impact on the comfort of the occupant. However, if insulation levels were dramatically improved and substantial levels of thermal buffering were added into the heating system, sizable time shifts of up to 6 h were achievable without a significant impact on either space or hot water temperatures.