Newer generations of heat pumps are increasingly capable of high efficiencies, even at lower outdoor temperatures. (Image: Daikin)
Newer generations of heat pumps are increasingly capable of high efficiencies, even at lower outdoor temperatures. (Image: Daikin)
Heat pumps are an established solution, ready to go mainstream and take on the challenge of home decarbonisation. (Image: Daikin)
Heat pumps are an established solution, ready to go mainstream and take on the challenge of home decarbonisation. (Image: Daikin)
The indoor and outdoor heat pump units work together. (Image: Daikin)
The indoor and outdoor heat pump units work together. (Image: Daikin)
The industry is working hard to make heat pumps attractive and to ensure that they are user-friendly for the installer and end-user. (Image: Daikin)
The industry is working hard to make heat pumps attractive and to ensure that they are user-friendly for the installer and end-user. (Image: Daikin)

The EU Commission aims to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and many industries are making significant progress to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from energy sources. Now the focus is on domestic heating systems and the role of heat pumps.

Decarbonisation of homes is the latest challenge in the move towards a more sustainable economy. Many countries are already working towards this. The Netherlands plans to phase out natural gas production by around 2030, in 2019 the French government introduced a new boiler conversion bonus scheme and Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2035.

In Sweden, heat pumps are already the default heating system and in many European countries new buildings are being fitted with heat pumps. According to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), 50% of new heating systems to be adopted in the Netherlands will be heat pumps. The European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) said in its 2019 report that 11.8 million units had been installed in Europe and it expects a doubling of the European heat pump market by 2024.

Replacement market
Heat pumps are an established solution, ready to go mainstream and take on the challenge of home decarbonisation. Yet in the replacement market, homeowners do not tend to turn to heat pumps. The shift to heat pumps requires awareness and attention from all stakeholders. Many people do not understand how heat pumps work or believe they are noisy or not quite as reliable as their old system.

Another psychological barrier is the lack of knowledge among installers and architects, which hinders their buy-in. As an industry, Daikin believes that it is necessary to open conversations with installers who have mostly worked with fossil fuel boilers. It should be easier for them to recommend heat pumps in the replacement market, by making installation more straightforward through good design.

Daikin is already adopting this as a key responsibility because it believes it will greatly accelerate the adoption of heat pumps. The Netherlands is a prime example of how regulation can offer a push in the right direction. It is already offering training on renewables for installers, supporting the shift towards renewable heating solutions.

Assumptions about heat pumps are becoming increasingly outdated as the pace of progress moves fast. Newer generations of heat pumps are increasingly capable of high efficiencies, even at lower outdoor temperatures. Daikin Europe’s latest air-to-water model heat pump, the Daikin Altherma 3HHT, does not require any additional energy down to a minus 15°C outdoor temperature. Models such as the 3HHT amount to a watershed moment for heat pumps as a replacement for fossil fuel boilers.

Green Deal
In 2019, to coincide with the UN’s COP 25 climate summit in Madrid, the EU Commission launched its European Green Deal to further its aim to become climate neutral by 2050. Daikin, as an international HVAC manufacturer, has expressed its support for the Green Deal and believes that the decarbonisation of Europe’s heating sector will be key if the continent is to achieve a climate-neutral economy by 2050. Daikin also believes that continuous developments in heat pump technology will help to decarbonise Europe.

When presenting the Green Deal, the European Commission’s President called it Europe’s “man-on-the-moon moment” and it is easy to understand why. Today, European building stock is responsible for approximately 36% of all CO emissions in the EU. As almost 50% of European Union’s final energy consumption is used for heating and cooling, of which 80% is used in buildings, the potential for decarbonising this sector is massive.

Why heat pumps?
Heat pumps are a proven solution, and Europe has the technology, the expertise, and the investments to expand further. From single family to multi-family homes, from renovation to new housing, from small to large commercial buildings and industrial plants, heat pumps today are ready to be part of the Green Deal. Most importantly, they are a low carbon heating technology. For each kWh of required heat, the carbon impact of a heat pump today is about half of a high efficiency gas boiler, with an even lower carbon footprint potential due to the further decarbonisation of the EU electricity production.

Heat pumps make use of renewable energies such as thermal energy from the air, the water, or the ground. These renewable energy sources are abundantly available in Europe and do not need to be imported. Heat pumps will increasingly use renewable electricity and are on the way to being a fully climate-neutral solution. In addition, they are essential to enable the balancing of the power grid, thus supporting the further deployment of a renewable energy production.

Investing in heat pumps also boosts EU economic growth as these products are widely developed and manufactured in Europe. Daikin, for example, has a European R&D centre and five factories in Europe related to heat pump technology. Every euro invested in heat pump technology is a euro invested in local job creation. The heat pump industry currently employs 225,000 people in Europe. New and further investments in renewable heating will pay dividends for the European economy as well as for our environment.

Incentives
Following the European Green Deal initiative, policy makers in the EU Member States can act on two levels to achieve decarbonisation. Firstly, EU Member States could commit to ending the use of fossil fuels so that the most polluting heating systems can be phased out. One excellent initiative from Austria means that it no longer allows oil-based boilers to be installed in new homes as of January 2020. Policy makers could also avoid incentives for fossil fuels. Currently, direct or indirect incentives benefit oil or gas-based boilers, due to the different taxation of heat pumps compared with boilers.

Secondly, renewable technologies need a level playing field. The gap between electricity and gas prices in many EU Member States is too high to make a heat pump an economically attractive investment for EU citizens. Incentives can bridge that gap for a certain period, but in the long run, the cost of energy should more accurately reflect its carbon intensity. Carbon pricing can contribute to further emissions’ reduction by extending the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) to all emissions of fossil fuel combustion in buildings and revising the Energy Taxation directive.

“Daikin Europe believes that the industry needs to put its efforts into communicating the benefits of heat pumps so that end users become more aware of them.”

European consumers
The industry is working hard to make heat pumps attractive through a mix of product features, pricing, design, and to ensure that they are user-friendly for the installer and end-user. Daikin Europe believes that the industry needs to put its efforts into communicating the benefits of heat pumps so that end users become more aware of them.

Patrick Crombez, general manager, Daikin Europe Heating and Renewables, said: “Governments can draw consumers’ attention to heat pumps through incentives for residential renovations, but also other means could make opting for heat pumps beneficial, such as reflecting the use of renewable energy in the building’s total energy score. This sends a strong signal and invites consumers to do a detailed calculation of total cost of ownership and ecological advantages. At this point, the benefits of heat pumps will become evident to consumers.”

He added: “In the short term, government incentives can help accelerate the transition to carbon-neutral heating and make heat pumps accessible to all Europeans, but in the long term accurate energy prices and a correct indication of the energy and carbon performance of a building need to be the end user motivations to invest in heat pump technology.”

He said that the examples from other European countries prove this strategy works. For instance, France and Germany have set up extensive and widely popular oil boiler replacement schemes. In addition, Italy has recently launched its Superbonus scheme, which allows consumers to apply for a tax rebate on work that increases the energy efficiency of their homes and promotes the installation of heat pumps.

Future ambitions
Daikin’s ambition is clear. It wants a heat pump in every European home. It believes that no new home should be built with a fossil fuel boiler and no old boiler should be replaced with a new boiler. It has pledged to take on any lingering technological and psychological barriers through relentless innovation.

Daikin sees this as an integral part of its Environmental Vision 2050, the company’s pledge to provide safe and healthy air environments while striving to reduce CO emissions to near zero. It believes that reliability, high CO2 emission reduction, efficiency and silence are key.

Patrick Crombez concludes: “Daikin has set itself the ambition to become a carbon-neutral company on a global scale by 2050. Decarbonising the heating sector in Europe and achieving the Green Deal’s bold target are the drivers of that vision. Daikin is convinced that all stakeholders – policy makers, industry leaders and consumers – have the same goal, to lay the foundations of a

• zero-emission future.”