Outlining the role of heat pumps in energy and cost efficient nearly zero energy building solutions in Finland

Oct. 08, 2014 | Finland is participating in IEA Heat Pump Programme’s Annex 40 with a national project called ”HP4NZEB – Heat Pump Concepts for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings”.

The main objective of this development project is to outline the role of heat pumps in energy and cost efficient nearly zero energy building solutions.

Finland is committed to EU targets in energy efficiency improvements. Within the EU, all new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by 2020. Even though the definition of what “nearly zero energy building” in practice in national level will mean in Finland is currently under development ; an ongoing project called “FInZEB“ (http://finzeb.fi/) is defining the concept and creates a national road map in order to reach the requirements of EPBD, the HP4NZEB project takes a step further by outlining the heat pumps’ role in reaching the nearly zero energy level in Finnish climate conditions.

The built environment has a central role in the use of energy and the generation of greenhouse emissions in Finland. Naturally, due northern location and cold climate, especially heating of premises takes fairly big portion of building energy consumption. Finland’s building stock is one of Europe’s youngest; most buildings were constructed during the 1970s and 1980s. Owing to the age structure of the building stock, renovations and improvements, such as piping and facade renovations, are becoming increasingly timely at many properties. In this connection also improving a property’s energy efficiency with the repair projects also makes sense.

In example ground source heat pumps are estimated to have 25-50 % of building’s heating energy saving potential in Finnish houses if replacing direct electricity heating with it. Electrically heated detached houses that don’t have water circulation based heating system are fairly typical in Finland - there is an estimate of 500 000 such houses in Finland.

The HP4NZEB project work – being coordinated by Green Net Finland and the project partners are Aalto University, Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT and Finnish Heat Pump Association SULPU - includes defining and outlining the energy and cost efficient solutions utilizing heat pumps for building services, structures and renewable energy production. The heat pump types researched are ground source heat pump, air source heat pump and exhaust air heat pump. The outlined concepts' demand for heating, cooling and electricity consumption will be simulated in three building types with three different scenarios: the "traditional" level (2012 level) and two nearly zero energy levels - the Finnish NZEB level or the passive house level defined by the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT.

The building types being researched are:

  1. Apartment building (new building in planning phase)
  2. Detached house (new building in planning phase)
  3. Apartment building (existing building that is being renovated)

The main objective of the project is to outline what is cost efficient and achievable "nearly zero energy" level in Finnish circumstances when it comes to concepts utilizing heat pumps. The project will also provide a suggestion for defining the renewable energy share for heat pumps.

The HP4NZEB project is being funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes and the consortium of ten Finnish companies representing heat pump distributors, construction companies, HVAC and building automation know-how. For the companies involved the project will provide information on which direction they should develop their businesses in the near future when there will be several new ambitious targets to reach regarding the buildings’ energy efficiency.

“HP4NZEB project will outline very valuable information for heat pump businesses in Finland. It will basically provide practical and verified information on what kind of buildings will be built in 2020 in Finland and what will be the role of different types of heat pumps in them. It is quite unquestionable that any nearly zero energy building will include some sort of heat pump solution that will be utilized for heating or cooling of the building. It is very important to examine these solutions in a holistic and integrated way. This information helps the companies to steer their businesses and development activities to the right direction” says the chairman of the project’s steering committee, the Executive Director of The Finnish Heat Pump Association SULPU Jussi Hirvonen.

The HP4NZEB project started in January 2014. The simulation results and conclusions will be available during autumn 2015.

Further information:

Energy expert Suvi Häkämies, Green Net Finland, tel. +358 50 331 1495, suvi.hakamies@greennetfinland.fi

Executive director Jussi Hirvonen, The Finnish Heat Pump Association SULPU, tel. +358 50 500 2751, jussi.hirvonen@sulpu.fi