tube heaters with thermostat

Gas Engine Heat Pump Evaluations

In October 2014, an important report – “Assessment of the Market, Renewable Heat Potential, Cost, Performance and Characteristics of Non-Domestic Gas Driven Heat Pumps (GDHPs)” was prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by Delta Energy & Environment Ltd and David Strong Consulting Ltd.


Describing the heat engine and heat pump differences between the two major branches of GDHP technology, the gas absorption heat pump and the gas engine heat pump, the report observes that:

“The sectors best suited to GDHP (Non-domestic Gas Driven Heat Pumps) have high demand for heating and/or hot water and cooling, and have high required running hours.”


End-user opinions

The sectors identified being particularly suited for GDHPs included

  • Hotels and restaurants
  • Care homes and hospitals
  • Industrial end users


Interviews carried out with a range of end users produced some very positive testimonials, such as:

  • “The Gas Engine Heat Pump is reliable– it’s just like a car engine”
  • “The Gas Heat Pump is brilliant”
  • “We do not know the exact SPF [seasonal performance factor] but we know it is good because our energy bills are lower”
  • “We know GDHPs work so we don’t need to test them further - there are 1,000s installed in Europe.  The technology has already proven itself”


On and off-grid savings


The DECC report highlights the energy savings and environmental benefits of GDHPs:
“Based on the available information and our primary research, our opinion is that GDHP are capable of achieving or exceeding the minimum SPF of 1.15 required to count as renewable.”


This would however be dependent on “effective specification, installation and maintenance & control systems.” The report calculated that “in both on-gas and off-gas grid areas, the range of savings achievable even from a relatively low performing GDHP is significant.” It is worth pointing out here that Schwank gas engine heat pumps have proven excellent energy efficiency ratings and are installed and maintained to the highest standards.


Turning to ROI comparisons with electric heat pumps, the DECC report points out that: “Particularly in on-gas grid areas, electric HP struggle to compete on economics, and in both on and off - gas grid areas, limitations on the electricity grid can mean electric heat pumps are difficult and/or require costly grid upgrades.”


The natural gas engine heat pump will therefore demonstrate significant economic benefits over its electric counterparts.


Early beginnings of the heat pump


The DECC report interviewee who stated that GDHP technology had “already proven itself” may not have been aware of how long that proven technology has been in the making. The Renewable Energy Hub website has a fascinating History of Modern Heat Pumps which comes up with an astounding fact:

“In 1748 William Cullen demonstrated artificial refrigeration which can be noted as the beginnings of the heat pump’s scientific principle.”


So the beginnings of the technology can be traced back to before the Battle of Waterloo! Outlining the history of heat pump development and the principles of physics involved, Renewable Energy Hub is highly positive about benefits of today’s generation of heat pumps, stating that:

“They are remarkably environmentally friendly and they can drastically reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills.”


Across industry and a range of other sectors, the gas engine heat pump is involved in creating remarkable opportunities for both heating and cooling buildings efficiently and with minimal environmental impact.