The provision of heating and cooling accounts for some 40% of total final energy consumption in Germany. Heating requirements are often underestimated, and indeed over 80% of the energy consumed in households is used to supply space heating and hot water. In view of climate change progression and the scarcity of resources, it is imperative that heating – and increasingly cooling – supply is as efficient and sustainable as possible. Heat pump technology is able to meet these demands.
The biggest advantage of heat pumps is the fact that the provision of heat (and cooling) is predominantly drawn from ambient energy. The remaining energy is usually furnished as electrical energy, though in special cases it can take the form of natural gas. The more ambient energy and the less electrical energy or fossil fuels required by a heat pump, the more efficient its operation. This brings both economical and ecological advantages.
In order to continue improving the efficiency and carbon footprint of heat pumps, we devote our time both to developing and refining individual heat pump components, and to enabling a switch to natural refrigerants. At the same time, we evaluate different heat pump systems under real conditions in the field. This allows us to identify shortcomings in system planning, installation and operation, and to formulate suggestions for improvement.
Developing and evaluating efficient cooling concepts
By introducing holistic, optimized energy concepts that take architecture, building physics, technical building components and user requirements into account, it is possible to significantly reduce the energy required for cooling in non-residential buildings while still ensuring that a high level of thermal comfort is maintained. We therefore consult architects and HVAC technology planners during building planning and construction processes to devise cooling concepts for different building types, user requirements and locations. Our services cover the selection, sizing and integration of innovative new cooling technologies, incorporation of thermal cold storage systems into cooling concepts and the simulation-based development of system operation strategies.
Ongoing development of low- exergy cooling systems
Buildings cooled using a combination of thermo-active building systems and environmental heat sinks have become more mainstream in recent years. Many examples of successful, smoothly functioning buildings provide evidence that these systems offer a very energy-efficient way of achieving high thermal comfort levels when used alongside environmental energy (particularly shallow geothermal energy). We are working to develop refined low- exergy cooling concepts, particularly focusing on thermo-hydraulic system optimization. For this purpose we are devising combined building and plant models in dynamic simulation environments that can be used to optimize components and systems, and to evaluate new control algorithms.
With a staff of 1200, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany is the largest solar energy research institute in Europe.
Fraunhofer ISE is committed to promoting sustainable, economic, safe and socially just energy supply systems based on renewable energies. Its research provides the technological foundations for supplying energy efficiently and on an environmentally sound basis in industrialized, threshold and developing countries throughout the world. Focusing on energy efficiency, energy conversion, energy distribution and energy storage, the Institute develops materials, components, systems and processes in five business areas.
One particular feature of Fraunhofer ISE is its excellent technical infrastructure, which is organized into eight laboratory centers and four technology evaluation centers providing testing and experimental services on a production scale. In addition, the Institute has several accredited testing facilities.
The Institute is a member of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europes largest application-oriented research organization. For more information, visit us at www.ise.fraunhofer.de