Heat Pumps – A Key Technology for the Energy Transition

Heat pumps will be the dominant heating technology in the future energy system. Scientific studies have shown they will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector. Today heat pumps are used in numerous types of buildings.

Heat Pumps
Heat Pumps in the Industry Energy System Heat Pumps in New Single-Family Homes Refrigerant Heat Pumps in Cities and Urban Districts Noise Heat Pumps in Existing Single-Family Homes Characterization/Tests Heat Pumps in Apartment Buildings Installation Heat Pumps in Commercial Buildings
© Fraunhofer ISE

Wide Range of Applications

For many years, heat pumps were primarily regarded as a solution for heating new single-family homes. Meanwhile it has become clear that the application possibilities are much more numerous: Heat pumps are available on the market with capacities in the double-digit megawatt range. They can efficiently and reliably provide heat and cold to new and old buildings, modernized buildings, single and multi-family homes, non-residential buildings and even entire urban quarters. High-temperature heat pumps supplying temperatures up to 160°C are already being used in industrial processes. The defossilization and electrification of the heat supply through heat pumps not only enables a more efficient use of renewable energy sources but also makes electricity consumption more flexible and thus stabilizes the power grids. 

Challenges for the Industry

The significant role of heat pumps in the energy transformation, however, creates challenges for equipment manufacturers: Heat pumps shall become the standard solution in many fields of applications, requiring that new methods, components and products be developed, integrated and established. Rapid market growth mandates efficient, cost-effective production methods in order to remain competitive. Further optimizations are also necessary in order to simplify installation for different applications and to increase the operating efficiency.

Heat Pump Applications

Fraunhofer ISE's research focuses on the following applications for heat pumps:


Heat Pumps in New Single-Family Homes


Heat Pumps in Existing Single-Family Homes


Heat Pumps in Apartment Buildings


Heat Pumps in Commercial Buildings


Heat Pumps in the Industry


Heat Pumps in Cities and Urban Districts

Heat Pump Technology

Fraunhofer ISE is working to advance heat pump technology by optimizing materials, components and devices. For example, we want to further improve the ecological balance of heat pumps by reducing refrigerant charge and using natural or synthetic low-GWP refrigerants. We are also working on optimizing the control and sensor technology and safety concepts. And since the heat pump of the future should be able to optimize itself using artificial intelligence, we are working on technologies that enable the heat pump to automatically adapt to building performance and user behavior.