Welcome to the Heat Pump Technologies and Refrigeration research programmes of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)
In Switzerland, a great deal of energy is consumed for heating and cooling buildings and for use in industrial processes. Approximately 65 percent of the energy required for heating buildings is still produced from the combustion of fossil fuels. For cooling purposes, machines are used that "pump up" the energy from the room to be cooled into the air and remove it in the form of waste heat. The same process can also be used as a heat pump. Here, ambient coldness (free-cooling) from the ground, water or the surrounding air that is not directly utilisable is "pumped up" to a temperature level that can be used for heating purposes. Heat pumps and cooling systems require drive energy. Depending on the surrounding conditions, a modern heap pump can produce 3 to 6 parts of useful heat from 1 part of drive energy. Today approximately 130,000 heat pumps are in use in Switzerland, which account for around 1.7 percent of the country's total electricity consumption. By 2020, approximately 400,000 heat pumps will be in use, accounting for around 4 percent of total electricity consumption.
The term "cogeneration systems" (combined heat and power systems) refers to systems that produce both mechanical energy and useful heat. An interesting concept has been developed that is based on large-scale cogeneration power plants in combination with small heat pumps. The cogeneration system produces electricity for driving the heat pumps that produce heat for heating purposes. With this concept it is possible to reduce the consumption of fossil energy and thus cut CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent.
This group of research programmes supports all efforts aimed at reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling processes, and thus at cutting CO2 emissions.