Visions for the refrigeration, air conditioning & ventilation and heat pump industry
- Important contribution to protecting the climate and the environment
- Energy networks of the future will rely on the refrigeration cycle
Dwindling fossil resources, rising energy prices and heightened awareness of environmental issues mean that modern industrial societies are facing new challenges. For this reason, more and more countries are passing strict, legally-binding targets for energy conservation. For example, the German Federal Government’s energy concept calls for a 10 percent reduction in our use of electricity by 2020. The European Union’s target is the expansion of renewable energies so that they have a 20 percent share by 2020. Refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation and heat pump technology is a key to achieving such ambitious targets as these: savings in cooling and air conditioning, that constitute 15 percent of electricity consumption, can have a huge effect on the total electricity requirement. Moreover, creating an intelligent network of cooling technology in the smart grid promises to make fluctuating renewable energies usable when and where they are needed.
Contribution of refrigeration and air conditioning technology to environmental protectionAcross the globe, states are issuing regulations that define the framework for industry trends in the future. In Europe, as in the USA, Russia, Japan and other countries, manufacturers of components and installations are confronted by increasingly detailed regulations relating to environmental protection, which they can comply with by means of product improvement.
First, there are now many efficient refrigerants on the market that are climate-neutral and, secondly, engineers are raising the efficiency of components and systems by minimizing tolerances and optimizing equipment control.
Great savings potentialThe potential savings to be made in refrigeration equipment go far beyond the products themselves – there is even more potential at the practical level when the refrigeration unit is being used for more than cooling. “At times of rising energy prices and increased awareness of the environment, the tendency is to use both heat flows of the refrigeration cycle. Refrigeration serves, for example, to re-cool commercial and industrial waste heat, whereas the heat that is generated can be used in production processes. Systems designed in this way make optimal use of resources and also reduce operating and investment costs,” explains Dr. Rainer Jakobs, the coordinator of the technical programme at Chillventa.
Challenge and opportunity: energy networks of the futureAs a result of a paradigm shift to renewable energies, electricity grids worldwide are about to undergo radical change. Decentralized feed-in and the peaks in load associated with energy generated by solar and wind will make considerable demands on the energy infrastructure of tomorrow.
One of the greatest challenges in designing it is the question of how electricity from fluctuating renewable sources can be used optimally. Large amounts of electricity that are generated sporadically cannot be adequately stored in the current grid. The result is cost-intensive peaks in production. “The refrigeration cycle is ideally suited to load-dependent controlled generation of cold and heat, and it can integrate renewable energies into the existing system by using storage capability,” says Dr. Jakobs.
Expertise of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry in demandStoring thermal energy in cooled and heated buildings is an effective approach to decoupling energy generation and energy consumption. Cooling units and heat pumps will, therefore, play a crucial role in the energy grids of the future. For example, the combination of reversible heat pumps and concrete core activation means a building can be loaded with heat energy or cold energy whilst plenty of energy is available from the grid. However, the heat or cold is given off after a time delay, thus ensuring a constant pleasant room temperature but also relieving the electricity grid and reducing the environmental impact.
Refrigeration and air conditioning go Smart Grid?The essential requirement for load-dependent activation is networking the refrigeration and air conditioning technology in the so-called smart grid, the digitally communicating network of electricity generators, storage facilities and consumers.
“This industry can play a pioneering role in this still young market and successfully position itself with innovative solutions,” says Dr. Jakobs with an eye to the future.
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