Heat pumps in buildings allow for the limiting of CO2 emissions by exploiting directly the renewable energy available in the external environment (aerothermal, hydrothermal and geothermal sources). Moreover, other renewable technologies such as active solar systems can be integrated easily into use with them. This combination not only increases the share of primary energy provided by renewable sources for heating/cooling but also improves the heat pump performance indices. Nevertheless, in cold climates, air–water heat pumps should be equally penalized due to the unfavorable outdoor air temperature. Conversely, a water–water heat pump, connected with a solar tank and thermal solar collectors, overcomes this issue. Indeed, the higher temperature attainable in the cold source allows for reaching greater COPs, and when the solar tank temperature level is enough, emitters can be directly supplied, avoiding the absorption of electric energy. In this paper, this plant configuration, in which a further tank after the heat pump was considered to manage the produced thermal energy, is investigated. Proper control strategies have been developed to increase the renewable share. Regarding a reference residential building located in Milan, for which the water–water heat pump was sized properly, a parametric study, carried out in TRNSYS by varying solar tank volume and collecting surface, has allowed for the identification of the optimal system configuration. A renewable share, ranging between 54% and 61% as a function of the collecting surface and the storage volume, was detected, as was an average seasonal coefficient of performance (SCOP) over 4. Regarding two common heating plant configurations using an assisted PV air-to-water heat pump and a gas boiler, the optimal solution allows for the limiting of CO2 emissions by 33% and 53%, respectively.
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