Heat pumps in Denmark - From ugly duckling to white swan

Sophie Nyborg, Inge Røpke

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    Over the last 10 years, the smart grid and heat pumps have increasingly gained attention in Denmark as an integral part of the low carbon transition of the energy system. The main reason being that the smart grid enables the integration of large amounts of intermittent wind energy into the electricity system via, among other things, intelligent interoperation with domestic heat pumps, which consume the 'green' electricity. Unfortunately, recent years' sales of heat pumps have been disappointing. Several studies have investigated the 'dissemination potential' of heat pumps in Denmark, primarily through conventional market research approaches. However, there is clearly a lack of studies that take a more socio-technical approach to understanding how technologies such as the heat pump develop and how they come to have a place in society as a result of contingent, emergent and complex historical processes. This paper seeks to address this gap by exploring, firstly, the historical development of heat pumps in Denmark through an actor-network theory perspective and, secondly, by discussing the current challenges to a more widespread dissemination of heat pumps on the basis of this account.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
    Pages (from-to)166-177
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Actor-network theory
    • Heat pump
    • Smart grid
    • Sustainability


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