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Heat pump sector warns of risk to EU goals

The European heat pump sector has warned that without stronger and more consistent policies, EU energy goals may not be met.

A heat pump
A heat pump - Image © Hermann - Adobe Stock.

The EU has a goal of 60 million more heat pumps to be installed by 2030, to boost energy independence and decarbonise heating and cooling.

However, after outstanding sales in 2022, the first figures from 2023 are showing a drop in sales. In Italy, for example, sales between the first halves of 2022 and 2023 fell by 34%. For Finland, the drop was 17%, while Poland saw a 6% decrease. The sales data collected refers to heat pumps sold to installers and distributors, not to the number received by end users. In some cases, heat pumps ordered last year by distributors – which were counted as sales in 2022 – are now stocked in warehouses waiting for end user orders.

The heat pump sector is being impacted by governments’ changing policies, including on subsidies and support for buying a heat pump, as well as falling gas prices and high electricity prices. As a result, consumers have less confidence in the market for heat pumps.

Thomas Nowak, secretary general of the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), said: “With strong policies and great sales showing a clear path ahead in 2022, heat pump manufacturers invested massively in production capacity. Now, sudden policy changes and unfavourable electricity to gas price ratios have shaken end users’ confidence. This is a serious threat to the heat pump sector – a key EU net zero industry – as well as slowing Europe on its path towards net zero and energy independence.”

The upcoming EU heat pump action plan is expected to provide policy clarity by setting out measures to address barriers to heat pump growth. These include an unhelpful electricity to gas price ratio, a lack of clear information to consumers, subsidies to fossil fuel heating, and the need for more trained installers.

EHPA and 20 other organisations gave input in an EU Heat Pump Accelerator document, which was handed over to the European Commission in June 2023.

“We urge the European Commission to fast forward its upcoming heat pump action plan, and to include measures to ensure long-term stability in demand and affordability of clean heating solutions at its heart. These measures must then be replicated at national level,” added Nowak.