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AIT Center for Energy: Whitepaper on industrial heat pumps

Heat pumps for decarbonizing the industrial heat supply

AIT Center for Energy has contributed to the Whitepaper on industrial heat pumps, which presents and outlines the status of the technology and steps needed to realize its decarbonization potential.

Heat pumps are an energy efficient electrification technology which are able to replace a large share of fossil fueled industrial process heating. To accelerate the implementation and further development of industrial heat pumps, AIT, together with seven other research institutes have prepared a whitepaper outlining the current status and steps needed to realize the decarbonization potential of this technology.


With Europe having strong ambitions to move towards a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, radical changes are needed to the current energy supply in the industry. Electrically driven heat pump technology has been proposed for supplying heat and increasing the process efficiency in industry for many decades. With larger shares of renewables in the electricity system, the decarbonization potential of this technology is increasing rapidly.

Despite having high energy and emission saving potential, uptake of heat pumps is currently limited. To improve the prospects for industrial heat pump technology, AIT, together with seven other European research institutes (DTI, DTU, Sintef, TNO, UPV, RISE, NTB) have collaborated on a whitepaper.

The goals of the whitepaper are to simultaneously:

  • Promote heat pumps as the reference low temperature heating technology in industry
  • Demonstrate the application and decarbonization potential of industrial heat pumps
  • Bring industrial heat pumps to the forefront of national and European strategic research and innovation agendas
  • Stimulate the coordination of research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of industrial heat pumps on a European level

The whitepaper is targeted towards policy and decision makers at both national and European level. It is intended to increase the awareness for the technology by these policy and decision makers and to be used as a basis to establish programs to unlock the decarbonization potential. It is also intended to act as a driver for heat pump manufacturers to develop technology for industrial applications and provide industry with the prospective of the technology.

An industrial heat pump program

The whitepaper demonstrates that implementation of heat pumps has far reaching benefits beyond energy and emission savings. It will also increase the competitiveness of EU industry and drive technical innovations, stimulating job creation and a strong economy. However, to unlock the full potential of the technology, a supporting policy framework is needed. To stimulate industrial heat pump applications the whitepaper proposes that the European Commission implement the following actions:

  • Create a regulatory framework that facilitates the acceptance of industrial heat pumps
  • Set up a European information and knowledge base on heat pump technologies and solutions for reliable process integration
  • Establish a RD&D program that supports the strengthening and growth of industrial heat pump applications.

All research institutes have ambitions to be at the forefront in the rollout of these actions and continue to stimulate industrial heat pump technology and developments within its CO2 neutral industry roadmap.

The white paper is available  here.

A webinar on the role of industrial heat pumps for the decarbonization of the industry is on its way.

Sign up for the webinar.

AIT contact: Dr. Veronika Wilk (veronika.wilk (at)ait.ac.at).