It may seem like magic that one kWh of electricity can generate three kWh of heat. Vattenfall played a major role in the development of this heat pump. During the second oil crisis in 1979, Vattenfall launched a solar project with the aim of developing solar heating and heat pump technology by supporting manufacturers financially and with technical expertise. Some of this research was conducted in Vattenfall’s laboratory in Älvkarleby. In all, the equivalent of nearly 90 million euros was invested in the project.

“The solar project and Vattenfall are part of the reason why Sweden is currently a world leader in the field of heat pumps. Back then, Vattenfall carried out a lot of research and development for the needs of society as a whole,” says Petter Johansson, a PhD student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, who is conducting research into technological change in the field of heat pumps in Sweden.

Vattenfall also sponsored a competition organised by the Swedish Business Development Agency NUTEK in the mid-1990s, which led to a dramatic increase in the use of heat pumps for domestic heating. Heat pumps are now used in half of all detached houses in Sweden. The country’s heat pumps generate 30 TWh of heat annually from just 10 TWh of electricity.

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