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Heat pumps causing line maintenance and capacity headaches

posted Aug 2, 2011, 10:28 PM by ema-1 ema-1   [ updated Aug 2, 2011, 10:52 PM ]
Energy Efficiency
"The increasing use of heat pumps to cool homes during summer is putting a strain on electricity supply"

"The Commissioner for the Environment says it's creating an unprecedented summer peak in energy consumption and could cause problems for future electricity supply"

"Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority chief executive, Mike Underhill, says heat pumps shouldn't be used during summer"

Older background:

"‘Electrification’ of space heating. New Zealanders are increasingly using electricity to heat their homes. For some time, heat pumps have been promoted as the way to improve urban air quality, and wood burners are on the decline. Unfortunately, while heat pumps are far more efficient than resistance heaters, problems are emerging. These include: Increasing electricity consumption: Many New Zealand homes are cold and damp in winter and poorly insulated.  In some cases, heat pumps are being used to heat whole houses in winter, and householders are commonly being given advice that because heat-pumps are so efficient, they should be left on all the time. They are also being used for cooling in summer, whereas home air conditioning used to be virtually non-existent in New Zealand. Increasing carbon dioxide emissions: Heat pumps often displace wood burners, and consume electricity at peak times when carbon dioixde emissions are generally higher.  Peak demand also drives the building of new generation and transmission infrastructure. Increasing strain on infrastructure: The replacement of wood burners with heat pumps is worsening the geographical generation-load mismatch, thus increasing grid losses. Moreover, due to the new use of heat pumps as air conditioning units, a significant peak is developing in summer. Transpower and the network companies undertake their major maintenance of lines in summer, and this is reportedly becoming much more difficult"

[The office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment advises that a specific PCE report on this issue was planned but is currently on hold]

"Transpower chairman Wayne Brown said while winter peaks from heater usage was a common issue, increasing power demand in summer was presenting new challenges. Usage was leading to summer peaks closing in on winter peaks. "It used to be a large gap, so you could actually take out some lines during summer for maintenance a bit more easily...but that gap is diminishing a bit, and we've always made use of that gap.""