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According to a lobby group, there has been a decline in the use of environmentally friendly heat pumps in Europe.
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According to a lobby group, there has been a decline in the use of environmentally friendly heat pumps in Europe.

Data from the industry indicates that the market for heat pumps in Europe has decreased, hindering the region’s goal of reducing household pollution through sustainable heating methods.

According to the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), there was a decrease in the sales of heat pumps in 2023 compared to the previous year in most markets. The total sales for 14 countries where data is available decreased by 5%, which goes against the previous trend of increasing sales that reached its peak in 2022 due to the rise in gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EHPA’s leader, Thomas Nowak, urged the EU to fulfill their commitment of creating a strategy to increase the number of heat pumps and their use in constructions.

Heat pumps, which act like refrigerators in reverse, use electricity to move untapped energy indoors. Their sales last year dropped 36% in Italy, 42% in Finland and 46% in Poland as gas prices fell and interest rates rose. Governments in some member states also cut support.

The recently published data from the UK, which were not factored into the EHPA computations, indicate a 4% increase in device sales over the past year.

In 2023, there was a 59% increase in heat pump sales in Germany, which was one of six European Union countries where the market experienced growth. The EHPA attributes this to a carryover effect from the previous year, when there was high demand but shortage of supply caused customers to wait for months to have heat pumps installed. However, the EHPA reports that this trend had ended by the latter half of 2023.

According to Duncan Gibb, an analyst at a clean energy policy organization called Regulatory Assistance Project, the decline in European sales poses a major obstacle to the EU’s goal of reducing carbon emissions in heating.

The European Commission’s goal is to have approximately 60 million heat pumps by the end of the decade. However, according to Gibb, at the current rate of about 3 million installations per year, the target will only reach about 45 million by then. Gibb emphasized the need for a quickly expanding heat pump market in the EU rather than a declining one.

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The European Commission’s postponement of an expected action plan until the first quarter of 2024 has caused frustration in the industry. Following the June European elections, in which right-wing parties known for their opposition to climate action are expected to increase their influence, new commissioners will be appointed.

Rowena Rodrigues, a representative from Irish heat pump manufacturer Glen Dimplex, expressed that businesses are primarily troubled by the uncertainty surrounding commission policy, preventing them from adequately planning and predicting. She added that although we are currently facing a slowdown, it should not be viewed as catastrophic, but rather, the key is to gain clarity on the future.

The latest versions of heat pumps are significantly more energy-efficient compared to gas boilers, but they have a higher upfront cost. According to the International Energy Agency, heat pumps play a crucial role in the world’s shift towards reliable and sustainable heating, yet they only cater to 10% of the global heating demand for buildings.

Heat pumps have been unexpectedly incorporated into battles over cultural beliefs in certain nations. These devices, which are commonly used for heating in countries like Norway without issue, have faced heavy criticism and false information campaigns in other countries like Germany and the UK.

Source: theguardian.com