Massive roll-out of heat pumps can reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels & accelerate the clean energy transition – European policies are revised to stimulate the deployment

The European Commission released the REPowerEU Plan on May 18, along with a number of annexes, including an ‘EU Save Energy Communication’. All documents are available at the bottom of this EC page.

This communication states, among many other things, “Regarding heat pumps, the EU aims to double the current deployment rate, resulting in a cumulative 10 million units over the next 5 years. Member States can accelerate the cost-effective deployment and integration of large-scale heat pumpsgeothermal and solar thermal energy by developing and modernising district heating systems, which can replace fossil fuels in individual heating, and clean communal heating, especially in densely populated areas and cities; and by exploiting industrial heat whenever available. This accelerated deployment should be matched by a fast ramp-up of the production of heat pumps, including through facilitated access to finance.”

The HPT TCP conducts several collaboration projects which will support this accelerated heat pump deployment rate, see, e.g. Annex 50 – Heat Pumps in Multi-Family Buildings for space heating and DHW, Annex 52 – Long term performance measurement of GSHP Systems serving commercial, institutional and multi-family buildings, Annex 57 – Flexibility by implementation of heat pumps in multi-vector energy systems and thermal networks and Annex 58 – High-Temperature Heat Pumps.

The Commission proposes a number of measures in its accompanying ‘EU Save Energy’ Communication to speed up and incentivize the use of heat pumps, including tougher energy efficiency criteria for buildings, which should see the end of ‘stand-alone’ fossil fuel boilers by 2029.  According to the press release of the European Heat Pump Association, “the Commission also includes many other points in REPowerEU which will help speed up the roll-out of heat pumps. These include:

  • Encouraging the Member States to accelerate the deployment and integration of large-scale heat pumps cost-effectively, for example, by exploiting industrial heat
  • Encouraging the Member States to use supporting measures regarding pricing to encourage switching to heat pumps
  • Encourages co-legislators to bring forward the cut-off date for public subsidies for fossil fuel-based boilers in buildings, from 2027 to 2025
  • Creating a new window in the Innovation Fund – which is financed through the EU Emissions Trading System – to support innovative cleantech manufacturing, including heat pumps
  • Proposing increasing the binding energy efficiency target to at least 13% by 2030 based on 2020 levels, from the current 9%.
  • Proposing increasing the renewable energy target to 45% from the current proposed 40%
  • Setting up a large-scale ‘skills partnership’ which should help train up people to work in the heat pump industry.”

According to Clean Energy Wire, the German government outlined plans on Tuesday (17 May) to save more energy due to mounting pressure to reduce Germany’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

The plan includes funding and incentives to promote more energy-efficient heating and building standards and the discontinuation of subsidies for gas heating and construction projects that do not meet the new Efficiency House 40 standard.

Renovation of buildings with the lowest energy performance is seen to have the greatest potential for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Solar roofs are to become the norm in order to boost renewable energy generation swiftly. While the German government plans to make heat pumps mandatory by 2024, the new work program aims to retrain competent workers in the industry.

A new “Heat pump build-up programme” aims to incentivise workers and companies in the building sector to participate in upskilling programmes. The building sector will also be incentivised to direct more resources into heating renovations, with a focus on the installation of heat pumps.

The government’s objective is to have “more than 500,000” heat pumps installed every year until 2024 and 800,000 per year afterwards when heat pumps become mandatory.

Similarly, the Dutch government intends to ban new fossil fuel-centric heating system installations as of 2026 while introducing the mandatory use of heat pumps or connections to heat networks.

Few countries are as reliant on gas to heat homes as the Netherlands. In 2018, fossil gas covered 71% of residential demand, while the liberal use of greenhouses in agriculture further adds to the situation. Thus, citizens have been hit hard by record gas prices.

The Netherlands will now become the next country in the EU to mandate heat pumps. The “trigger point” for the mandate will be the replacement of a house’s heating installation, like a boiler.

Much like plans in neighbouring Germany to mandate at least hybrid heat pumps as early as 2024, the Dutch government is betting on the efficacy of so-called hybrid heat pumps, which run on electricity for most of the year.

If you want to learn more about hybrid heat pumps, please take part of the reports from HPT Annex 45 -Hybrid Heat Pumps.


Read more about the new policies in Germany and the Netherlands on the links below.