This biennial Dutch trade fair (6-9th February 2018 in Utrecht) highlighted a dramatic growth in interest all-electric and hybrid solutions, as big gas companies fight their corner. VSK has taken on a new importance in the Dutch heating market, as industry gathered to understand the requirements and options for a potentially all-electric future (driven by government targets and public demand for less reliance on gas). There were noticeably more attendees, and larger stands. In previous years industry appeared uncertain about the way to decarbonise the Dutch heating stock, but this year, the heating and cooling portions of this event were heavily dominated by discussion of heat pumps and hybrids. It will be interesting to see if this trend is maintained until the next event in 2020!
Heat pumps were the main topic of discussion at this event, and were seen by many as the key to an “all-electric” future. The focus was on pure heat pumps for new build homes, and hybrid systems for retrofit over the next 5-10 years. The optimal technology and system design were a topic for debate, but there was a lack of wider focus on grid capability.
Solar PV and thermal solutions were widely available, but positioned largely as complimentary to heat pumps. Electric boilers currently have a niche in apartment blocks, but other electric heating is still fighting for a place in the growing electrically-driven heating market.
The future of gas is uncertain, but lobbying may prove effective in the development of alternative gases. Large gas boiler companies maintained a strong presence at this event, despite an emphasis on heat pumps elsewhere. They all outlined their vision for the future as having a mix of gas and electric products, with much emphasis on hybrids. Lobbying will be an important tool for this sector to maintain their future market role, potentially through the development of alternatives to fossil fuel gas networks (e.g. biogas and hydrogen).
New approaches to connectivity put the spotlight on remote diagnostics. Smart home systems (whatever the heating technology) are increasingly ubiquitous in the Netherlands, and customers are no longer willing to pay for this capability. There is a new focus on highlighting the benefits of these controls to installers and housing associations, where remote monitoring and diagnostics can be valuable.
We will be exploring the Dutch heating market in more detail in our upcoming market insight reports – if you would like more information, please get in touch.