Heat pumps drive clean energy transition in Europe

Heat pumps provided just 10% of global heat for buildings in 2021, but a recent International Energy Agency report says their use is really taking off across Europe as countries seek to reduce their dependence on heat pumps. emissions.

“Heat pumps have the potential to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by at least 500 million tonnes by 2030,” the IEA said. Projections for Europe, where building heating accounts for a third of natural gas consumption, call for gas demand reductions of at least 21 billion cubic meters by 2030.

About 60% of buildings in Norway are already equipped with heat pumps, including more than 40% in Sweden and Finland. These numbers help dispel the myth that heat pumps don’t work well in cold climates, the IEA said.

Poland, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands saw their heat pump sales double in the first half of 2022, while growth in the European Union was 35% in 2021, well above above the global figure of 15%.

However, the implementation of the heat pump offers advantages and challenges. Most homes and businesses that switch to heat pumps will realize savings over time, with reduced energy costs of around USD 900 per household in Europe. But start-up costs are still quite high for most people, and grants and other programs, such as Poland’s aid for low-income households, are needed to support the transition.


Heat pumps will reduce your costs

As with many technologies, the costs of these facilities can decrease with time and greater acceptance.

“In some mature markets, such as Denmark and Japan, cheaper ductless air-to-air heat pump models have become less expensive than gas boilers for new small home installations, partly due to lower costs. labor, piping and installation,” the report said.

The Czech Republic is among European countries that have changed building codes to make it easier to use heat pumps, and the IEA is calling on governments to take action to remove barriers to the installation of heat pumps. In countries like Germany, where electricity taxes have made gas sources more affordable in the past, tariff reforms have helped to make heat pumps more attractive.

There is also a need for skilled workers to install and maintain heat pumps, with proposals to integrate heat pump expertise into existing certifications in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and other relevant trades. More than 1.3 million workers will be needed by 2030, 20% of them in Europe.

“Concerted efforts are needed to reduce regulatory and trade barriers and strengthen supply chains,” the IEA added, “as evidenced by the recent proliferation of new government policies and roadmaps to encourage pump adoption. heat”.

These policies include the EU’s REPowerEU plan and the US Inflation Reduction Act. Both measures were adopted in 2022 and take into account the increased demand for electricity presented by heat pumps and other clean energy measures.

Options for businesses also continue to evolve

Part of the work is carried out to develop alternatives for industry, particularly in the paper, food and chemical sectors, or for specific applications in the textile or automotive industry. These options can be reinforced by incentives such as the German scheme to cover up to 55% of the cost of a heat pump for certain industrial installations.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has already invested more than $86 million to install 30,000 heat pumps, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe.

And in places like Sarajevo, above, large-scale installations can replace district heating systems that rely on fossil fuels. Two proposals are under consideration which will lead to a 40% reliance on heat pumps if both are implemented.

By Lauren Fagan. Articles in English

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