Gas-free industrial heat with PVT collectors and heat pumps
While gas and electricity prices are exploding, the demand for alternative heating solutions is growing. Hybrid systems consisting of gas boilers and heat pumps are being promoted intensively in the Netherlands. However, PVT systems combined with heat pumps could be a new, efficient solution on the path towards gas-free industrial heat. We took a closer look at the PVT solutions from the Dutch company R&R Systems, its latest projects, and the general mood on the PVT-market in the Netherlands.
Photos: R&R Systems
R&R Systems has produced PVT collectors since 1998 and offers them throughout Europe. In an interview, Account Manager Gijs van Houtum explained that their “energy concepts are based on geothermal energy, solar energy, and heat and cold storage”. The company serves several sectors including private households, non-residential and recreational premises as well as agriculture and industry. They mainly produce and install their thermal collectors themselves, “but also like to partner with local contractors to facilitate the after-sales work”, said van Houtum. Since the company’s production and the demand are growing, van Houtum thinks the biggest challenge will be “not finding enough employees to do the installation work”.
In a nutshell, van Houtum sees the special feature of the company’s products as being the in house manufacturing of the PVT panels. Since the company can adjust the sizes for each PVT panel, it is a flexible partner for the customer and a supplier of indoor, outdoor and even full-roof solutions promoted under the brand Power Profit Panel. The R&R PVT elements consist of a polypropylene absorber that is clamped to the back of the PV panel so that the warranties on the solar panel are maintained. Besides this, the company installs Bosch and Nibe heat pumps with almost every kind of capacity.
Newly built home heated solely by a full-roof PVT solution together with a Bosch heat pump of the type 7800i LWMF 2/8 kW. As a rule of thumb, typically two PVT elements are used per kilowatt of the heat pump if the PVT field is its only heat source.
R&R Systems provides gas-free industrial heat plants
Despite the pandemic, R&R Systems installed six industrial and agricultural solar heating systems with a total of 2,441 m2 of collector area in the years 2020 and 2021. One of the most recent clients that profited from a gas-free heating solution is a Dutch foil and coating manufacturer. R&R Systems installed a 512 m2 PVT collector field together with two brine heat pumps of the type Nibe 1345-60 and a vertical geothermal heat exchanger that provides heat at 48 °C to the factory (see photo at the top). The backup heating element is electric and integrated into the heat pump. The foil producer now saves its previous annual gas consumption of 55,000 m3.
In November 2021, R&R Systems commissioned a 784 m2 PVT solution on the roof of a mushroom farm in Milheeze, Netherlands. Heat is used for controlling the temperature of the cultivation process and space heating of apartments. In this, case two boreholes with a depth of 70 m work in parallel with the PVT field to provide heat to the heat pumps. The heat pumps supply between 14 and 50 °C to the factory. Depending on the outside temperature, this provides cooling or heating for the cultivation process.
Installation of a 263 m2 PVT installation for a chicken farm that used 45,000 m3 of gas annually before the PVT and heat pump solution was installed by R&R Systems.
Growing PVT market in the Netherlands
Van Houtum sees great opportunities for the PVT-market, especially because the government has already expressed the need for gas-free and CO2-free heating. 34,334 m2 of PVT collectors were installed in the Netherlands last year, an increase of 36 % on the previous year according to a market survey carried out by AEE INTEC. He says the main driving factors are the energy transition dialog and the war in Ukraine.
Financial support, however, has not played an important role so far, as none of the previously commissioned industrial and agricultural PVT-heat-pump solutions from R&R Systems received funding. According to the Account Manager, the national subsidy scheme SDE++ only subsidises really large systems. The requirement is that the heat pump capacity is greater than 500 kW and the collector field is at least 600 m2.
Organisations mentioned in this news article:
R&R Systems: https://www.energieverdieners.nl/
AEE INTEC: https://www.aee-intec.at/