18 May 2017

O.1.3.4 The impact of EU nearly-zero energy building (NZEB) regulations on heating and heat pump choices in buildings

Buildings represent a key battleground in the EU sustainable energy transition, representing 40% of final energy consumption and approximately 36% of total greenhouse gas emissions. In an attempt to address this issue, Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) regulations were implemented as a tool for significantly reducing energy use in new buildings, and existing buildings subject to major renovations. However, with 28 individual countries responsible for defining their own NZEB policy, many of which are not fully-defined, or are difficult to interpret. This has created great uncertainty as to what heating technologies will be eligible for installation under NZEB policy in new-build EU dwellings. This paper outlines the findings from research into the eligibility of heat pumps under NZEB regulations in 3 EU Member States: Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Results showed that despite differing approaches to NZEB between countries, under the right circumstances almost all heating technologies could be eligible. However, the current format of future NZEB regulations appear to be most beneficial for heat pumps in terms of ease of meeting regulations. With five years left until NZEB implementation, the regulatory landscape remains uncertain in many EU countries – even those with well-defined NZEB regulations. When installed in a new-build dwelling built to minimum standards, heating market players will need to look to install additional technology or fabric measures alongside their heating systems to meet regulations. This will have an impact on the required future actions of heating system suppliers and heat pump manufacturers over the coming years.