“Individual motivation is key – be that for cogeneration or heat pumps.”

February 15, 2024

Ullrich “Ulli” Brinkmann is a renowned specialist for refrigeration and industrial-scale heat pumps. On February 01st, Ulli joined 2G Energy AG to help build and grow our industrial-scale heat pump business. In this interview he provides an introspective into the technical realization of decentralized energy projects and reveals his goals at and with 2G:


Ulli, you’ve been working in the refrigeration and HVAC sector for many years. What’s enticing about your new task at 2G?

Across various projects during my previous professional activities, I already encountered 2G Energy from time to time. Even as an outsider, I felt that 2G is an innovative and dynamic company with active and committed employees. Additionally, 2G has become a household name across the European energy sector for not only being component supplier but providing tailormade end-to-end solutions. I’m delighted to add to my knowledge on the strategic development of heat pump concepts to the vast range of expertise.


2G is internationally renowned as a CHP system manufacturer – heat pumps are completely new to the portfolio. How much of a technical challenge does this present for the company?

Well, we have to start by acknowledging that developing a heat pump isn’t rocket science – especially since the acquisition of the Dutch company NRGTEQ brought in considerable technical expertise which can serve as the foundation of further heat pump portfolio developments. Also: 2G developed from strictly supplying biogas CHP to realizing decentralized, hydrogen-capable power generation projects over just the past couple of decades. During that process, there were certainly technological developments that were at least as complex as adding heat pumps to the portfolio will be. As far as the production is concerned, the number of synergies and shared components in these sectors is a significant advantage. The new product will fit seamlessly into the existing processes. Now, on the software side of things, 2G’s system control solution and the my.2-g.com online portal have been tried and tested over many years and provide excellent conditions and interfaces to integrate the heat pump into the 2G system concept.


The choice of refrigerant is the topic of much public debate when it comes to the climate-friendliness of heat pumps. What do you make of the technological development and what’s 2G’s position on the matter?

The technological success of 2G has always been based on developing individual solutions first and increasing standardization over time. That also applies to choosing refrigerants for our current heat pump portfolio. For now, we select the refrigerant based on individual project demands. Of course, the recent EU rulings on the subject pretty much paved the way for natural refrigerants. So, our development naturally focuses on them.


Now, let’s move on from the technical side of things, on to the structure of the electricity market: Does an efficient combination of heat pump and CHP offer any particular systemic opportunities?

Despite the heated nature of public debates, the political direction is pretty much set in stone: the triad of goals consisting of supply security, climate neutrality and economic viability must always be front and center of energy policy. And a combination of these two technologies can contribute to that. From potential profits on the energy market over the significant reduction of CO2 emissions to the technological synergies under varying meteorological conditions, combined systems create immediate benefits for their operators and society at large. Additionally, they help to reconcile two overarching political endeavors, namely the regional heating plan and the overall power plant strategy, on a local level.


Today, 2G generates about half its revenue on foreign markets. How significant will the heat pump be for 2G internationally?

As was the case for previous newly developed products, the initial focus will be on the German market. Here, we’ve already realized numerous innovative and ground-breaking projects with energy suppliers, for example. So, there’s an established interest in any expansion of our portfolio.
Nevertheless, we’re already receiving requests from foreign markets and will gradually try to realize initial 2G heat pump projects. In the medium term, our goal is to standardize the product enough to enable its distribution through our international partner network.


Let’s finish things off on a more personal note: what are your ambitions for your start at 2G?

As part of my new role at 2G Energy, I’m looking forward to contributing to exciting projects and to developing innovative solutions with my new team. But for now, I mostly want to absorb as much of the “2G spirit” as possible and make myself at home.
Over the first few days, the new colleagues have already made me feel right at home – I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s eagerness to support me. Also, I want to help ensure that our many 2G colleagues around push heat pump technology forward with the same enthusiasm as they do combined heat and power generation. That individual motivation is critical to succeed – for combined heat and power generation as well as for heat pumps.


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