These two giant heat pumps will warm 25,000 households



German engine maker MAN Energy Solutions‘ industrial-sized heat pumps will produce 350,000 MWh of heat per year and warm 25,000 Danish households using offshore wind power and seawater.

Industrial-sized heat pumps

The seaport town of Esbjerg, Denmark, has a target of net zero by 2030, and Kenneth Jørgensen, project director at Danish utility DIN Forsyning, said:

We’re phasing out coal-fired heat and replacing it with carbon-neutral district heating produced from wind and seawater.

DIN Forsyning will be using two of MAN Energy’s electro-thermal energy storage heat pumps. They’re the first of their kind to provide zero-emission thermal energy on an industrial scale, and they’re powered by clean electricity created by local wind turbines. They’re expected to come online this fall.

How they work

Seawater is drawn from the harbor, and thermal energy is extracted before the water is pumped back into the sea. Carbon dioxide, the refrigerant, is warmed up by the seawater and vaporized, then it’s compressed, and it heads to a heat exchanger, where it reaches a maximum temperature of 150 C (302 F). It will deliver water to the city’s district heating network at 90 C (194 F).

Karl Böhle, MAN’s senior project manager, said:

The specialty of the system we’re installing is that we’re using seawater as a heat source, CO2 as a refrigerant, and a hermetically sealed, electrically-driven compressor to generate heat.

One of the unique features of this heat pump solution is that its use of excessive wind power can balance the grid if required.

Being able to store heat means that, unlike an electrical grid that has to be balanced, the heat pump’s production does not have to match its consumption. Excess electricity can be sold back to the grid, which means the giant heat pumps provide cleaner and cheaper heat and electricity.

Check out the video below to learn more about this trailblazing project:

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Photos: Sebastian Vollmert

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