Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

Heat pump systems, how to accelerate their spread?

The EU consultation will remain open until 30 August

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The EU executive is preparing the new strategic communication to accelerate the deployment of heat pump systems in Europe. The initiative, which is characterised by an integrated approach across all policy areas, should provide a number of specific measures to address the main obstacles in the sector and strengthen its attractiveness. A 360-degree approach, in the Commission’s intentions, addressing both the regulatory instruments and the aspects relating to the financing, communication and use of competences.

Heat pumps action plan, what does it provide?

The future action plan should focus on four key aspects that are considered key to the sector’s growth:

  • partnership bringing together the Commission, the Member States, the industry, financial institutions and training providers throughout the heat pump value chain. Its task will be to support research and innovation in the field, and increase the production of these plants, creating the right national conditions. Including a favorable ratio between electricity and gas prices.
  • Communication with all interest groups. The goal is to increase knowledge about heat pump systems and their benefits to promote their use.
  • A new regulatory framework. The aim, explains Brussels, is “to give a sufficiently strong political signal for the heat pump market, even phasing out individual boilers by 2029”. The rules will cover in particular ecodesign and energy labelling.
  • Accessible funding. “The action plan will identify funding possibilities for the deployment of individual heat pumps and for heating networks […] as part of local and regional heating and cooling strategies”.

In the process of defining the Plan, the European Commission is attentive to the opinions of citizens and stakeholders. That’s why these days launched a second public consultation online (in all official EU languages) that will last 12 weeks until August 30, 2023. The feedback sent will be taken into account in the further development and refinement of the initiative. And they will come together in a synthesis report which will explain how this has been taken into account.

The benefits of heat pump systems

The European Commission is convinced that the use of heat pump systems in buildings, industry and local thermal networks is essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the objectives of the Green Deal and REPowerEU. But there are also side benefits, as the European Heat Pump Association (EPHA) explains, from purely health to occupational benefits.

A recent study by the association shows that if Europe can achieve the target of 60 million new heat pumps installed by 2030, the demand for gas from buildings will decrease by 40%. With a direct effect on imports of less 60 billion euros. While for domestic bills there would be a 20% drop in spending on heating.
Today in the European Union, EPHA reports, a new fossil fuel boiler is installed every eight seconds. A rapid growth rate, facilitated by the lower cost of these systems. But if it is true that heat pumps require a higher initial expense, so is their ability to be more affordable considering the entire service life.

The Cambridge Econometrics modelling, carried out on behalf of the European Climate Foundation and the EHPA, revealed that reaching the EU target for the sector would: increase by 2.5% of GDP per year (compared to a normal scenario); create 3 million new net jobs; reduce CO2 emissions from residential buildings by 46% (compared to 2022); cut nitrogen oxides emitted by domestic heating by almost 40% by 2030 (compared to 2022).

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