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For any organisation, decarbonising process heat is a journey. To get you started, we are compiling a number of tools that will help you identify the scope of your needs and ways to tackle issues that will pop up along the way. Our first two tools are our heat pump estimator tool and a guide to electrical upgrades for accommodating heat pump installations

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Access the online Heat Pump Estimator

So you are interested in using heat pumps? An important first step is to determine the capacity you need. A common misconception is that you will need a heat pump with the same capacity as the boiler you may be replacing. This is not the case. Once you have an idea of the capacity and use characteristics you need, the online Heat Pump Estimator will help you select the right kind of heat pump for your application, accelerating the process of transitioning to a heat pump.

This tool, developed by the Australia Alliance for Energy Productivity, pitt&sherry and SmartConsult, with support from Mayekawa Heat Pumps and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation, will help you work out what capacity you need so you can take the next steps in decarbonising your heating and cooling.

It is designed to provide an easily accessible ‘heat pump selector’ or ‘pre-selector’ and to allow decision-makers of the business to
navigate key determinations around heat pumps. It is designed to be usable by business managers as well as seasoned engineers. 


The user will be able to plug in some values regarding heating, cooling, location, and temperature requirements. From this. the tool will provide and estimate of CAPEX, OPEX and suggest and adequate refrigerant for the solution. The goal is to find out in a few minutes whether heat pumps deserve a more detailed investigation for your heating/cooling requirements and whether you should seek out more in-depth information on the suitability of your application.

A more advanced version of the tool which supports more advanced sizing, including for thermal storage systems, is available exclusively to A2EP Member organisations

Guide to electrical upgrades to accommodate industrial heat pumps

While heat pumps can reduce energy consumption and provide a clean heating solution, they can often lead to an increase in electricity consumption and often also increase in peak demand. Before engaging a contractor to install a heat pump it is important to understand these points and the implications for your business.

When would I need an upgrade?

If the addition of a heat pump will increase your demand beyond the capacity of your existing electrical supply, you will need an upgrade. The degree of upgrade works required will depend greatly on the specifics of your business (size, operational profile, location, etc.) but can include, for example:

  • Switchboard upgrades – new circuit breakers, surge protection, etc.

  • Transformer upgrades – more power required (kVA) where poles and wires can supply the necessary demand.

  • Distribution substation upgrades – where additional power demands will overload the distribution substation supplying the local network.

  • Other – for example, additional voltage regulation.

What is the process?

The procedure for upgrading your electrical connection will depend on your distribution network service provider (DNSP) and how much additional power you require. Generally, the process involves the following steps:

  1. Determine projected maximum demand – You may wish to engage an electrician of electrical engineer to aid with this process, particularly if the upgrade is more complex, related to several pieces of machinery, or may require consideration of load sequencing, etc.

  2. Review the electrical upgrade procedures relevant to your Distribution Network Service Provider (see table below)

  3. Complete an application form – For some DNSPs this is a paper/electronic form, others it is completed via an online portal (registration required). Generally connections that are <100amp/phase are considered simple, >100amp are more complex and may involve negotiated connections.

  4. Pay for an upgrade design – a small fee may be required to cover the cost of evaluating and designing a supply solution.

Should you choose to proceed, you will need to:

  1. Pay for the upgrade – some DNSPs offer contestable solutions via tendered works through accredited service provider. Typically, the business requesting the upgrade pays for grid-side assets, but they are then owned and operated by the DNSP once electrified.

  2. Contact your retailer for metering services

Figure 1 below is a schematic representation of the process within the AusNet Services network (Victoria).

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How much does an upgrade cost?


This is one of those 'How long is a piece of string?' questions. However, costs incurred may include:

  • fees from your electrician or electrical engineer,

  • the application fee,

  • design fee,

  • construction and installation fee.

While the service and application fees are relatively minor, upgrade costs are dependent on different factors such as existing maximum demand, additional load, least costs for the works, requirements of the end customer (e.g., they desire a bigger size substation), and commercial load vs industrial load. Advice from DNSPs and anecdotal evidence suggest prices can range from as little as $30k – to as high as several million dollars. Currently, there is very little clarity for business for these costs prior to undertaking the application and design process.


Can I avoid or mitigate an upgrade?
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The capital cost for high temperature heat pumps is relatively high compared to traditional carbon-fuelled heating options and generally scales with the heating capacity. Running a heat pump continuously and integrating it with thermal storage to smooth out times of generation and demand will not only deliver lowest lifecycle costs, it will also reduce the extent of (and possibly eliminate the need for – an electrical upgrade. Correctly sizing thermal storage is a vital step to ensure the electrical demand increase is as small as possible.

Figure 1 - Thermal storage used to minimise heat pump capacity

Getting in touch with your Network Service Provider

You can determine your Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) by visiting the Australian Energy Regulator website.


Behind Future Heat

FutureHeat was created by Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity.



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