The number of heat pump units sold in the European heat pump market increased by 3% in 2013. A total of 769 879 units were sold in the 21 European countries covered by this year’s EHPA report.
Assuming a useful life of 20 years, the heat pump stock at the end of 2013 exceeds 6,74 million units (see Table 1-1).
Table 1-1: Heat pumps in Europe - sales and stock | 2005-2013
1 015 607
1 525 401
2 114 519
2 918 976
3 644 998
4 437 530
5 237 003
5 979 042
6 741 251
Figure 1-1: Development of heat pump sales in Europe 2005-2013, by category
The heat pump market continues to be governed by three major trends:
1.Air is and will remain the dominant energy source for heat pumps (note that cooling-only units are not counted in the report, see Annex II).
2. Sanitary hot water heat pumps are the fastest growing heat pump segment across Europe. This category is the only one showing double-digit growth. Sanitary hot water units combine a heat pump and a hot water storage tank. They are either sold as stand alone units with the heat pump and the tank in one casing or as systems combining a heat pump and a separate tank.
3. Larger heat pumps for commercial, industrial and district heating applications are increasingly popular. They quite often use geothermal or hydrothermal energy. However also here, air is an energy source used by a number of installations. Air, water and ground can either carry renewable energy or waste heat from processes. In the later case, this type of heat pump improves energy efficiency, but does not use a renewable source.
In a country perspective, most markets returned to growth, after a very difficult year 2012. In 2013, 15 out of the 21 markets saw a positive development (see figure 1-2). Some countries even experienced double-digit growth for a second year in a row. A complete turnaround could be observed in Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Finland where the heat pump markets returned to growth after a negative development in 2012. Growth in two of the biggest markets - France and Sweden - strongly influences the overall positive results of the European market. Early signs from 2014 sales confirm this positive trend. It is indeed expected that 2014 will see larger growth rates than 2013.
Figure 1-2: Development of heat pumps sales in 21 European countries - growth rates 2011-12 and 2012-13
It is well known that growth in the heating segment is mainly influenced by the development in the construction sector. While the outlook for the building sector remains sluggish, heat pump sales are slightly growing. Increasing demand is mainly shaped by stricter requirements on buildings acceptable energy demand. As a matter of fact, the ever tighter requirements make heat pumps the preferred choice in case a heater is newly installed. The extension of energy efficiency requirements to the renovation segment is beneficial to heat pumps, too.
Still (a) high initial investment cost and short-term decision horizons and (b) high electricity cost influence the total cost of ownership of a heat pump system and limit market growth.
Despite the obvious benefits of heat pump installations towards the 2020 climate and energy targets, government support for the technology is still underdeveloped.
In 2013, a total heat pump capacity of over 24 GW was installed producing approx. 13 TWh of useful energy, integrating 8,26 TWh of renewables in heating and cooling and avoiding 2,12 Mt of CO2-equivalent emissions. An additional 4,83 TWh of primary energy was saved resulting in a reduced final energy demand of 10,56 TWh.
In order to produce the 2013 sales volume and to maintain the installed stock, a total of 41 495 man years of employment were necessary. Obviously real employment related to the heat pump market is larger.
In aggregated terms, a total of more than 6,7 million heat pump units were installed since 1994. This amounts to an installed thermal capacity of nearly 224 GW. All installed heat pumps produce 120,8 TWh of useful energy, 77,8 TWh of which being renewable. Their use saved 99,1 TWh of final and 47,1 TWh of primary energy.
Figure 1-3: RES from 2013 heat pump stock, by country (in TWh)
Figure 1-3 shows the split of renewable energy production from heat pumps on a country level. France is the country that produces the most renewable energy, followed by Sweden. They belong to a group of only six countries (France, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Norway and Finland) that produce 62,38 TWh or more than 80% of the total renewable energy production from heat pump technology.
The heat pump stock in 2013 (heat pumps sold in the past twenty years) contributed to 20 Mt of greenhouse gas emission savings (see figure 1-4). The distribution of emission savings per country is very similar to that of renewable energy production, since both calculations are directly linked to the number of units installed.
Figure 1-4: Greenhouse gas emissions saved by 2013 heat pump stock, by country (in Mt)
In summary, heat pumps are performing well but there is still a tremendous potential. With more stringent governmental support, the numbers presented here and thus the benefits to society could be much larger.
The heat pump industry calls on decision makers in the European Commission and the Member States to eventually tackle the heating segment. It will require a heating and cooling strategy that makes heat pumps a cornerstone.
Clearly, today's business as usual will not be enough to unearth the technology’s potential, instead significant government intervention is necessary to shape the sustainable energy supply in all Member States of the European Union.