The Heat Pump Market, Research and Policy in Norway

The Norwegian National Team organized a hybrid onsite and online workshop on May the 10th in conjunction with the IEA’s HPT TCP Executive Committee meeting, concentrating on the most current heat pump developments in market, policy, and research. The hybrid workshop was attended by more than 50 participants from 17 member countries around the world.

HPT TCP Norwegian National Workshop

The workshop was opened by the chairman of the HPT TCP, Stephan Renz; he provided a quick introduction to the Technology Collaboration Programme on Heat Pumping Technologies by IEA (HPT TCP) and welcomed the attendees to the workshop. Mr Renz stressed the importance of the national workshop, adding that it provides an opportunity to examine Norway’s energy infrastructure in greater depth by deploying heat pumps to decarbonize the building stock.

Next, Rolf Iver Hagemoen, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Heat Pump Association and delegate for Norway in the HPT TCP Exco, gave a presentation on the heat pump market in Norway. He began by presenting background information about Norway, stating that it is a country of mountains and vast forests, vast empty expanses, and just around 3% arable. The population is over 5.3 million people, with around 1.2 million living in and around Oslo. People are also dispersed throughout the countryside. Sweden, for example, he claims, is significantly more centralized than Norway. Hagemoen emphasized that heat pumps are widely used in Norway; they can be found practically anywhere, even in areas with minus 30 or 35°C weather, in large cities, district heating, and large buildings.

His presentation used an Energy Sankey diagram to show the Norwegian energy system demographics, which show that renewables provide 98 % in Norway, with 1690 hydropower plants accounting for 88% of Norwegian production capacity and 53 wind farms accounting for 10% of Norwegian production capacity. According to Hagemoen, most buildings in Norway are heated by electricity, either directly or through heat pumps, and heat pumps are used by more than half of all houses. Furthermore, Norway’s whole transportation sector is being electrified; for example, 64.5 % of cars sold in 2021 were fully electric, demonstrating that Norway has an energy system that is truly electrified in comparison to many other countries.

He stated that Norway currently has the highest electricity prices ever and that this is due to less rain than normal in the last years and lower filling level in the hydropower reservoirs. The Norwegian electricity system is based on hydropower and is connected to the  European energy system. Higher CO2 and gas prices in Europe cause electricity prices to rise.

When it comes to the heat pump market in Norway, the European heat pump associations put in a lot of effort to understand why some European marketers are strong and others are weak. He cited some of the significant variables that drove the heat pump market, such as the restriction of using fossil oil heating for most buildings since 2020 and increasing CO2 levies for fossil fuels year after year from 2012 to 2020. In addition, incentives were doubled for 2018-2019 to assist people in replacing ageing oil burners with heat pumps. Also, the price difference between electricity and fossil fuels is critical.

In Norway, air-to-air heat pumps dominate the heat pump market, and one of the reasons for this, compared to many other countries, is that there are many buildings without hydronic systems. In countries like Finland, Sweden, France, and Italy, many buildings have direct electric heating and air-to-air heat pumps. Hagemoen provided an overview of the growth of the Norwegian heat pump market, which began in the 1970s and 1980s with various demonstration projects.

According to his presentation, 105,000 heat pumps were sold in 2019, compared to 125,049 in 2021 and 91,894 in 2020, a 36% increase over the 2020 data and a significant rise when compared per capita. When it comes to the heat pump units sold, France and Italy are the leading countries. However, when it comes to per capita, Sweden, Finland, and Norway top the list. One of the major reasons is that Scandinavian countries began electrifying their societies considerably earlier than many other countries. Below is more information about the distribution of heat pumps in Norway.

In the period 1987 – 2020, almost 1.4 million heat pumps were sold in Norway.

  • Air-to-air approx. 1.25 million
  • Air-to-water over 50,000
  • Brine-to-water over 55,000
  • Ventilation heat pumps over 20,000

According to him, if the 2021 heat pump sales data are included, the total number of heat pumps sold in Norway since 1987 rises to over 1.5 million, with more than 1.1 million heat pumps in use, equating to more than 10 TWh of ambient heat.

2021 compared to 2020

  • Air-to-air +38%
  • Air-to-water +2.5%
  • Brine-to-water +8%
  • Exhaust air 29.9%

The second speaker was Synne Krekling, a researcher at SINTEF Community, who spoke about the potential for energy efficiency and heat pumps in Norwegian buildings. She discussed the range of energy efficiency measures, including retrofitting, more energy-efficient windows and doors, heat recovery ventilation, technical equipment, smart control, water-born heating, heat pumps etc.

Laurent Georges, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), spoke about analyzing energy upgrading projects of single-family houses towards a Norwegian nZEB level. He discussed the OPPTRE project, funded by the Research Council of Norway and led by the SINTEF Community, with NTNU as a research partner. This project investigated the renovation of Norwegian single-family wooden houses towards NZEB. In this context, the cost and energy performance of all-electric heating and ventilation solutions have been compared. Laurent said, most combinations investigated are based on heat pump technologies. According to his presentation, the heating of Norwegian residential buildings used to be dominated by direct electric heating. It was thus important to investigate whether heat pump solutions can compete with direct electric heating when renovated buildings get well insulated. Two houses, taken from an architecture competition in OPPTRE, were used as cases, and it was assumed that the thermal performance of their envelope had been improved significantly. Their research showed that the investment cost for the heat pump and ventilation technology is critical, and the payback time is relatively long. In addition, the combinations of heating and ventilation with the lower investment costs have lower total costs. However, he said that many combinations with an intermediate investment cost, like compact heat pumps and exhaust air heat pumps, are also characterized by lower total costs. He mentioned that they represent a large potential to significantly decrease the electricity use without increasing the total costs for users. The study shows that it is important to account for the uncertainty in the investment cost in the lifecycle cost analysis of small residential buildings and that the uncertainty of future electricity prices (which used to be relatively low in Norway) significantly influences the cost-effectiveness of the heat pump solutions. In addition, their findings highlighted that the lack of a hydronic distribution system in existing Norwegian buildings is a barrier to implementing air-to-water and ground source heat pumps.

Under the title of High-Temperature Heat Pumps based on the international collaboration project (Annex 58), the researchers at SINTEF Energy Research gave a series of presentations. Dr Michael Bantle, a senior researcher, spoke about Electrification by High-Temperature Heat Pump and Dry Ficiency closed-loop heat pumps: Operation experience and outlook. Ole Marius Moen presented findings from an international collaboration project Annex 58: High-Temperature Heat Pumps State of the art, demonstration cases and development perspectives. Christian Schlemminger talked about SkaleUp: Industrial high-temperature heat pump for simultaneous process cooling and heating.

The talk by Kirsti Midttømme, Chief Scientist at the Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE), was titled Geothermal Heat Pumps in Norway and was part of an international collaboration project (Annex 52). Her talk covered an overview of Norway’s geothermal heat pumps. According to her, the prevalence of GHP is continuously rising, with a larger increase projected as electricity prices rise. She presented the findings of the Scandic Flesland Airport’s IEA HPT Annex 52 monitoring project, which reveal that the as-built GHP system at the Scandic Airport Flesland has lower lifecycle costs than the alternatives. She also discussed environmental monitoring of GSHP installations by satellite (InSAR), demonstrating that subsidence caused by the building and operation of GSHP systems can be detected. Randi Kalskin Ramstad, a consultant at Asplan Viak and an associate professor at NTNU, presented the results of an international collaboration project (Annex 52) at Fjell school in Drammen, Norway, under the title High-Temperature Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (HTBTES) – GeoTermos. She suggested that high-temperature seasonal heat storage in boreholes could be comparable to a thermal battery. She demonstrated that the school’s heating needs were met by “free heating” from boreholes. This allowed them to create a practically off-grid system and had lower peak heat in the winter. According to his presentation, the next GeoTermos will be held at Krokstad elderly home in Drammen municipality. She concluded her talk by demonstrating how scaled, and adjusted systems can have a significant impact on Norway’s energy system, including areas, cities, and industry.

The subsequent two presentations of the workshop were given by Veronika Wilk, a Senior Research Engineer at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT); she provided an update on the ongoing international collaboration project Internet of Things for Heat Pumps (Annex 56). And Ellika Taveres-Cachat from SINTEF Community talked about using IoT for Predictive Maintenance of Heat Pumps, and her presentation focused on using predictive maintenance to predict system failures to optimize maintenance efforts, and she used a case study of the ZEB Laboratory to highlight the challenges and opportunities of the method.

And the last two presentations were given by Dr. ing. Jørn Stene, a specialist heat pump and cooling systems at COWI AS, and he spoke about field studies and monitoring of commercial heat pump systems, which was part of the recently completed international collaboration project (Annex 52). Trond Berntsen, a project manager at Fortum Oslo Varme AS, discussed the potential of using heat pumps in district heating to utilize heat from a big data centre.

Find all the presentations on the member country page for Norway here >