The creation of a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy is one of the five priorities of the Junker EC Presidency. The goal of the Energy Union is to ensure that Europe has secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy and it acts upon five dimensions: supply security, internal energy market, energy savings, emissions reductions and research & innovation. The heat-pump industry can play a significant role and contribute to all the dimensions of the Energy Union. The deployment of heat pumps reduces the exposure of the EU energy supply to external shocks, eliminating the need for fossil fuel imports from politically unstable regions, and boosts the decarbonisation of our economy by providing heating and cooling using sustainable energy from air, water and ground. Heat pumps are also among the most efficient devices for heating, cooling and hot water use and increase energy efficiency in the residential, commercial and industrial sector. Heat pumps contribute to a well-functioning internal market by bridging electric grids and thermal networks; in future smart cities/regions they will be at the heart of the energy-optimised buildings and infrastructure, integrating different energy technologies. Finally, the heat-pump industry is at the forefront of research & innovation and offers a variety of solutions to keep Europe competitive on the global stage.
As part of the Clean Energy Package, the European Commission proposed the adoption of a Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union which will require Member States to develop Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans and report on the progress in their implementation. EHPA believes that reporting and planning should aim at 100% decarbonisation, especially in the heating and cooling sector.
Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. By improving the energy efficiency of buildings, the total EU energy consumption could be reduced by 5-6% and CO2 emissions could be lowered by about 5%. In order to achieve these goals, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) was adopted in 2010, setting some high efficiency requirements for new buildings and deep renovations. In accordance to the directive, all new buildings in 2020 should be nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEBs) and new public buildings must reach that target already in 2018. As part of the Clean Energy Package, the European Commission proposed in November 2016 a revision of the EPBD, with the goal of accelerating building renovation rates, promote the use of smart technology in buildings and with a view to decarbonising the building stock by 2050. Heat pumps can significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of the building stock, as they are amongst the most efficient devices for heating, cooling and hot water use, they fulfil the minimum energy requirements set for the building envelope and increase the energy efficiency in the residential, commercial and industrial sector.
The Energy Efficiency Directive was adopted in 2012 and it established a set of binding measures to help the EU save 20% of its primary energy consumption by 2020 compared to projections. As part of the Clean Energy Package, the European Commission proposed in November 2016 an update of the Directive, proposing to set a new 30% energy efficiency target for 2030. The proposed directive, which contains specific provisions that promote efficiency in heating and cooling, is being currently examined by the Parliament and the Council. As heat pumps are highly efficient technologies, they can significantly contribute to reaching EU’s energy efficiency targets. Besides large-scale applications, EHPA believes that also small-scale efficiency heating and cooling technologies can play a major role.
The Renewable Energy Directive was adopted in 2009 in order to promote the production and use of energy from renewable sources in the European Union. It imposes a target to the EU as a whole to cover at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020, specifying individual national targets for each country. The adoption by the Council of the 2030 framework for climate and energy, which raised the renewable energy target to 27% by 2030, led the European Commission to propose in November 2016 a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, which is currently being examined by the Parliament and the Council.
Since heat pumps are recognised as a renewable energy technology under the Renewable Energy Directive, the industry actively contributes to the achievement of EU’s renewable energy targets and as such, it should be further promoted by the EU legislation.
As part of the “Clean energy package”, the Commission released a set of proposals on a new rule book for the EU energy market in 2016, with the aim of preparing the energy system for the rising share in variable renewable energy (expected to reach 50 percent in 2030). In particular, the EC proposed to revise the Regulation and Directive on the internal market for electricity and the regulation that establishes a European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, as well as to adopt a regulation on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector. The proposals go in the direction of ensuring a more competitive, customer-centred, flexible and non-discriminatory EU electricity market, making it fit for decarbonisation and innovation, with market-based supply prices.
Heat pumps are very efficient technologies that possess a high flexibility and demand-response potential. EHPA supports an electricity market with flexible tariffs and incentives for self-consumption, as this would allow consumers to play an active role in the energy system and it would also provide a financial advantage to heat-pump users.