Power Talks: “Electrify to decarbonise heat? Heat pumps to get it right!”

| Awareness-raising and better price signals are among the strong actions needed to meet the 2050 decarbonisation targets in the residential heating and cooling sector, all panellists agreed.


Brussels, 15th November 2018 – Ahead of the publication by the European Commission of the upcoming draft Long-Term Strategy aiming to bring Europe’s GHG emissions to levels compatible with the Paris Agreement and possibly with the recommendations of the IPCC Special Report (1.5°C increase in temperature), the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) and Eurelectric organised a dedicated “Power Talks” event to address the heating and cooling sector, a sector largely left behind despite its priority role to decarbonise the continent. The panel, moderated by Eva HOOS, Policy Officer, European Commission, included Kristian RUBY, Secretary General, Eurelectric, Thomas NOWAK, Secretary General, EHPA, Claire ROUMET, Executive Director, Energy Cities and Mercé ALMUNI, Director General, BEUC. All agreed that better dissemination of the available technologies, such as heat pumps, together with more incentives and less regulatory barriers is fundamental to reach the 2050 decarbonisation targets.   


Lack of information and incentives, as well as regulatory barriers (like the taxes and levies weighing on the electricity bill) are slowing down the decarbonisation of heating and cooling, highlighted Kristian Ruby, Eurelectric. He also pointed out that according to Eurelectric’s electrification study the overall direct electrification rate of industry, transport and building can reach 60%, with a rate between 45% to 63% for buildings. To address the increase of electricity demand, heat pumps will play a fundamental role by increasing the efficiency of the building envelope.


The word ‘efficiency’ was also at the heart of the speech of Thomas Nowak, EHPA, stating: “The missing word when talking about electrification via heat pumps is ‘efficient’: we should aim at efficient electrification via heat pumps”. Heat Pumps will not create more electricity demand but on the contrary they will help to reduce it by developing a more flexible and integrated heating and cooling system for buildings: ‘’with 1 heat pump you can heat 2 buildings at the same time’’ he said. Another point raised by Thomas Nowak was the need to push a consumer behavioural change, for example by including CO2 costs in the service and enhance the dissemination of heat pump potentialities both for new buildings and renovations. Besides his strong call for more “heat-pump” friendly laws across the EU, EHPA’s Secretary general also echoed the claim of several cross-industry associations advocating for heating and cooling to become self-standing top priorities in the LTS and also for next Commission.


A fundamental shift of the current habit was also strongly recommended by Claire Roumet, Energy Cities, while addressing the bigger picture of city decarbonisation. ‘’Currently when mayors approach H&C they see two angles: air quality pollution and possible heat riots when prices are high” she underlined. In any plan to decarbonise by 2050 local authorities are doing (i.e. Manchester, Paris), 50% of emission reductions comes from reducing demand, 25% from energy produced locally, 25% from neighbouring areas. However, the priority should be given to “infinite local energy first” Claire Roumet highlighted, this will create the right environment to increase the use of heat pumps among professionals, being one source of infinite energy.


Building energy efficiency was the main point raised by Mercè Almuni (BEUC). ‘’Consumers wants to save energy, so money, not to be green ultimately’’ she said, remaking how dynamic prices and time of use tariffs are essential to drive a green heat and cooling transition. To achieve a decarbonised society, a pricing system awarding greer solution should be put in place, together with a better dissemination of the technologies and solutions among professionals.


For more information contact Eirini Litina at eirini.litina@ehpa.org