According to one of themost recent bulletins from the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), the European heat pump market grew by 10% in 2015, resulting in a record year with 880,179 units sold. This in turn contributed to 24 Mt of CO2 emission savings and the creation of 47,103 full time jobs, explains Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of
EHPA.

Heat pumps – time to move to ‘system integration’

Pat Lehane August 5, 2016 , , , , ,
 Thomas Nowak, Secretary General

Thomas Nowak, Secretary General

In Ireland, the Heat Pump Association’s sales figures for 2015 fully reflect this pattern, showing an increase of 67.76% on the previous year, making for a total of 3902 units sold. Indications for the first six months of 2016 are for another bumper year in store. This overall growth is mainly driven by the strong segment of air-sourced heat pumps, a renewable technology that finds increasing attention in European and national statistics, according to EPHA.

Geographically, most of the growth can be attributed to increased sales in countries such as Spain (+15%), Italy (+20%) and France (+8%). However, as indicated, Ireland had by far the greatest percentage growth, albeit from a lower starting point. “These figures could increase further in these countries if an appropriate framework would be set at EU level to account for renewable cooling“, commented Pascal Westring, EHPA expert in statistics. This issue is being addressed by the Commission this year, with the Heating & Cooling Strategy and revision of the Renewable Energy Directive.

“Technology-neutrality”                                                                                                             Looking at the sales potential identified by EHPA, if European markets would reach the same maturity level as the Swedish one, the European heat pump stock could realistically grow to 60 million units, enough to replace today’s imported Russian gas for heating purposes.

“We are not yet there”, says Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of EHPA, “but interest in heat pump technology is on the rise across Europe. A growing number of experts conclude that decarbonisation of the heating sector is impossible without heat pumps.

“Civil society is also turning to the technology. We see a growing number of cities applying to our ‘heat pump city of the year award’. Yet, EU policy-makers prefer to remain technology-neutral. Instead, they should create framework conditions that favour the most efficient and best performing technologies. When the state of our planet requires immediate action, high ambition must be the answer.”

Integrated solutions = heat pumps                                                                                                               Thomas Nowak added: “A catchy word in Brussels energy discussion nowadays is ‘integrated approach’. Heat pumps are the perfect system integration technology for a resilient Energy Union. They are a bridge between the electricity and the thermal sector, between heating and cooling. They can be combined with residual heat, district heating, cogeneration and other RES solutions. Maybe system integration could be the new way forward to unleash the potential of heat pumps”

EHPA Key policy messages                                                                                                                             Meeting EU’s climate and energy goals entails the decarbonisation of the heating sector. The latter requires a full decarbonisation of the building sector by 2050. According to several studies, this can only be achieved in time by exploiting the full potential of heat pumps, the most efficient and renewable technologies.

Due to the “lock-in” effect of investment in thermal appliances, heat pumps need to be given strong political recognition as of today. This means:

• Heat pumps need to be openly supported by policy makers to reassure consumers and investors. Best available technologies must be promoted in EU and national policies, on  the basis of a consumer-friendly energy label (that has no empty ‘A’ class and compares functionally-equivalent products);

• Heat pumps need a stimulating climate-friendly regulatory framework, such as strong building requirements, policies to foster the renovation sector, defined phase-down objectives for fossil fuel boilers, and a forward-looking primary energy factor;

• Heat pumps play a key role in system integration and should be valued and promoted. They offer huge flexibility potential through demand-response and thermal storage.

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Pat Lehane

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