The IEA estimates in the recent Net Zero Roadmap that the global heat pump stock in capacity will triple from 1,000 GW to 3,000 GW as heat pumps are considered a key technology in the decarbonization of space heating. This is likely to result in a large deployment of heat pumps, which means that the material footprint of heat pumps will increase significantly in the coming years.
Like most technical installations, heat pumps consist of materials with a
significant material footprint. To align this with a circular economy, the products need to be optimized in a lifecycle perspective with a long lifetime and with the possibility for lifetime extension through repairs. The requirements and the associated documentation are expected to increase in the coming years as the carbon footprint in all use phases becomes a competitive parameter. This is already happening in some markets where limits are introduced on building level to restrict the lifecycle carbon footprint of buildings.
This means that companies providing individual heat pumps for space heating need to adjust their products to accommodate a future where both energy and material efficiency are important competitive parameters.
To ensure cost-effectiveness and competitiveness in the transition to a circular economy the heat pump industry needs to have access to a forum where knowledge is collected and shared. And this is the overall objective of the Annex, which will provide an overview of the status of heat pumps in relation to a circular economy, highlight the technological possibilities for improving the circularity as well as develop best practice recommendations.
In practice, an overview of the terminology for material efficiency must be created as well as a literature study of relevant topics related to circular economy. The current state-of-the-art for circular economy for domestic heat pumps needs to be defined, and the potentials for circular economy and potential barriers to recycling and dismantling need to be assessed. Finally, best practice tools must be developed to achieve an improved material efficiency in domestic heat pumps, and the results of the work will be communicated to relevant stakeholders.
- Task 1: Definitions and delimitation – Determine definitions and set a framework for working with circular economy in heat pumps.
- Task 2: State-of-the-art – Collect information on national and international initiatives on material efficiency and circular economy.
- Task 3: Evaluation of potential – Evaluate the potential for circular economy and potential obstacles for reusing and dismantling.
- Task 4: Guideline development – Develop design and dismantling guidelines.
- Task 5: Dissemination.
 IEA (2023), Space heating, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/space-heating, License: CC BY 4.0
 IEA (2022), The Future of Heat Pumps, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/the-future-of-heat-pumps, License: CC BY 4.0
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