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Hybrid heat pumps create new opportunities in the on-gas retrofit sector

Heat pumps sales in Europe have flat-lined for the last few years. Hybrids – a combined electric airsource heat pump plus a gas boiler will open up new opportunities, enabling electric heat pumps to compete with conventional gas boilers – a potentially huge market with 8 million installations per year across Europe. Hybrids also offer opportunities to decarbonise the off-gas grid sector (i.e. when combined with oil boilers).

New in depth research on hybrid heat pumps by Delta-ee, which analyses the current market and outlook for hybrids, indicates that the best potential for hybrids with gas boilers lies in markets such as the UK, The Netherlands and Germany. Four of the five biggest boiler companies in Europe are already offering a hybrid, and there are already nearly 20 different hybrid products on the market. Sales could increase tenfold to 2020, from close to 10,000 per year across Europe today.

Five reasons why hybrids will open up the on-gas retrofit market:
  • Customer economics: The upfront cost of a hybrid is significantly lower than for an electric heat pump alone. Further, where the heat pump works predominantly for space heating, and the boiler provides hot water, running cost savings can be achieved through hybrids compared to a boiler alone.
  • Consumer acceptance: Hybrids using a gas boiler could be far easier to sell to both customers and traditional heating installers than a pure heat pump – gas is familiar and trusted, particularly in gas-dominated markets like the Netherlands, UK and parts of Germany (as shown in Delta-ee’s report for ENA). Could re-naming the system from “hybrid heat pump” to “hybrid boiler” further increase appeal?
  • Retrofitability: A wide range of hybrid system designs fit with a wide range of building types. Emerging compact integrated products which may be able to directly replace combi boilers could open up mass market opportunities. Un-integrated products where the heat pump can be retrofitted to an existing boiler, open up new market opportunities to ‘up-sell’ existing heating systems.
  • Lower carbon than a boiler: Hybrids can play a role in decarbonising heat – by offering a lower carbon alternative to a gas or oil boiler, and potentially even saving carbon relative to a pure HP.
  • Reducing grid impact: ‘Smart’ operation of hybrids (the ability to switch away from electricity at peak times) increases electricity system flexibility & helps manage grid congestion. Therefore, hybrids reduce grid impact relative to full electrification. The value of hybrids to the electricity grid as we move towards a low carbon future could be immense.

For more information on Delta-ee’s recent in depth report on hybrid heat pumps, please contact Dr Lindsay Sugden, Head of Heat Pump Research at Delta-ee at lindsay.sugden@delta.ee.com or call +44 (0)131 625 1006. A table of contents can be found here.

 

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Tuesday, 09 March 2021

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