Qvantum, a Swedish heat pump supplier that's trying to install more of them in urban apartments around Europe, has announced an SEK 460 million (€41.2 million) fundraise backed by Thomas von Koch, former CEO of EQT, and IKEA's investment arm Ikeasfaren. (source: Digital)
Air source heat pumps use thermal energy from outside of the building. They use electricity and a refrigeration cycle to draw heated air into the building without burning significant fuel quantities.
There's also ground and water-source heat pump technologies, which instead rely on natural heat piped from beneath surface level and water, or a direct water source, which is then heated as it travels above ground in a similar way to traditional central heating boilers.
While electricity is often still needed to run heat pumps, the lack of an internal fuel source is said to make them a far more eco-friendly choice for household heating systems.
The design of the heat pumps can play a big part in determining exactly how energy efficient it is.
Qvantum says its heat pump generation technology is suited to densely populated areas, namely district systems that need decarbonisation solutions to meet the net zero emissions challenge.
Historically, urban district networks have shied from installing heat pumps due to the cost. It's often been a lot cheaper to run gas-fired district heating, and then seek emissions efficiencies through other means.
Some of the biggest heat pump implements are happening in the Nordics. For instance Helsinki is reportedly looking at fitting its central city districts with a 500MW heat pump system. Using a 17km tunnel to carry water from the Baltic seabed, the system is predicted to contribute 40% of Helsinki's urban heating demand and could launch as soon as 2029.
Sweden too has had a degree of success. As of 2019, Statistica reports it had 1.9 million heat pumps operating. Of these, around 1.3 million installations were classified as achieving maximum performance in transferring external air and water, known as aerothermal heat pumps in industry parlance.
Qvantum adapts the configuration of its heat pumps to fit the needs of specific buildings, taking into account the interior and ability to transfer thermal energy externally. The control system is connected and can therefore report back to Qvantum's operational centre, allowing its team to extract and publish data. This could support control systems for the operators of the building, for example, or else help residents optimise their usage.