Replacing conventional building boilers with electric heat pumps in New York City buildings could substantially increase the viability of renewable energy use in the city, according to a recent study from researchers from the Earth Institute’s Sustainable Engineering Lab.
The study, by Michael Waite and Vijay Modi, was published last April in the journal Applied Energy. In it, the authors modeled hourly electricity and fuel heating demand in New York City and compared it with hourly wind speeds at 66 potential wind turbine sites in New York State. They then analyzed how various levels of hypothetical heat pump use would affect the percentage of installed wind energy that could be utilized in a given year.
Waite and Modi found that increased use of heat pumps for domestic hot water and space heating could significantly increase the utilization rate of wind-generated electricity while reducing carbon emissions much more than wind power alone. The results also suggested that increased market penetration of heat pumps could reduce the per-unit cost of wind electricity.