Impact of Heat Pump Load on Distribution Networks

Muhammad Akmal, Brendan Fox, John David Morrow, Tim Littler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
2008 Downloads (Pure)


Heat pumps can provide domestic heating at a cost that is competitive with oil heating in particular. If the electricity supply contains a significant amount of renewable generation, a move from fossil fuel heating to heat pumps can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The inherent thermal storage of heat pump installations can also provide the electricity supplier with valuable flexibility. The increase in heat pump installations in the UK and Europe in the last few years poses a challenge for low-voltage networks, due to the use of induction motors to drive the pump compressors. The induction motor load tends to depress voltage, especially on starting. The paper includes experimental results, dynamic load modelling, comparison of experimental results and simulation results for various levels of heat pump deployment. The simulations are based on a generic test network designed to capture the main characteristics of UK distribution system practice. The simulations employ DIgSlILENT to facilitate dynamic simulations that focus on starting current, voltage variations, active power, reactive power and switching transients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2065-2073
Number of pages9
JournalIET Generation, Transmission and Distribution
Issue number12
Early online date03 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Since electric power systems increasingly contain significant renewable generation, a move from fossil fuel heating to heat pumps can help reduce CO2 emissions. A large heat pump load provides benefits, especially thermal inertia allowing pumps to be switched off for several hours with minimal impact on temperature. However substantial pump installation poses challenges for low-voltage networks. This paper provides strategic evidence that a beneficial 50% heat load penetration is achievable for a generic system before operation limits are breached. Additional Science Foundation Ireland (SFI: 06/CP/E002) funding was leveraged for this work to validate academic research with SONI (NI system operator).


  • Heat pumps, load modelling, power quality, power system dynamics, power system simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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