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Wave of new, renewed, and extended incentives to improve heat pump prospects in Europe

With renewable heat moving ever higher up the political agenda in Europe, heat pumps look to be benefiting already

Across Europe’s five largest heating markets (where almost 5 million heating systems, equivalent to more than 60% of the European total, are sold annually), there is a wave of renewed and extended support measures that look likely to improve the prospects for heat pumps.

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Nearly Zero Energy Buildings: A European mystery

Love it or loathe it, the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), and its recast creation Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB), are here to stay and apparently “save the day” for building energy efficiency. Whilst targeted at sizably reducing the impact of energy consumption in all new buildings as of 1 January 2021 (and 1 January 2019 for new public buildings), the implementation (or lack thereof) of NZEB legislation in Member States appears to have done much to cast the new build industry into disarray in its quest to mobilise EU member states to reduce the environmental impact of their respective building stock.

Working with heating system manufacturers and the new build industry, we at Delta Energy & Environment have been exposed to this first hand as part of our current investigation into the future impact of the EPBD & NZEB regulations on the heating market.

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European Heat Pump Summit 2015 #2 – eyes wide shut when it comes to the mass market

With the delicate scent of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) in the air Delta-ee’s Heat Pump Research Service braved the orderly streets of Nuremberg to attend the biennial European Heat Pump Summit. In search of views and thoughts from those in the thick of things as to what the future holds for heat pumps in Europe, we found that most eyes were on heat pump technology and performance rather than how to explicitly increase uptake across Europe.

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European Heat Pump Summit 2015 – a glimpse into the heart of Europe’s HP industry

As summer fades to an autumnal chill, we here at Delta-ee’s heat pump research service turn to heat pumps to help stave-off the coming winter blues, and our minds wander to thoughts of the biennial European Heat Pump Summit, the beating heart of the heat pump industry.

Heat pump technologies change, but the focus remains the same

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The power of up-close and personal

Low carbon heating techs are demonstrated ‘live’ to home-owners – and micro-CHP proves very popular.

As part of Delta-ee’s Microgen Insight Service, 36 intrepid UK home-owners came to the Baxi UK test lab in Warwick in July this year. They had been prepared for the evening by reading a description of five low carbon or renewable heating technologies, prepared by Delta-ee. During the evening they were shown examples of these products running in a test facility, and had the chance to ask questions.

At the start of the sessions, the participants were asked about their attitudes towards the technologies, and whether they could see themselves installing one (or any of them) in their home. At this initial stage, air source heat pumps (ASHP) were generally the preferred technology.

But following live demonstration of each of the products, during which time people also had the chance to ask questions from the expert demonstrator, this picture had changed dramatically. Micro-CHP’s popularity had soared by the end of the demos, based on the design they were shown.

So what made micro-CHP so appealing?

Among the top reasons given were:

  • It doesn’t take up much space: people could see it fitting into their homes, in the place of the current boiler.
  • It can be fitted without making significant changes to the home. Customers said they were less interested in having a heat pump (ground source or air source) once they were told there was a chance they might have to upgrade their radiators.
  • They liked the idea of being paid to generate electricity via the Feed-in Tariff. The rising popularity of solar PV over in the UK, thanks to the Feed-in Tariff, has probably helped here, in warming people up to the idea that they can be paid for generating electricity. However, since these focus groups, the Government has announced a consultation on the FiT (announced on Friday 28th August) – which might make this less of a selling point in the future.

 So what 3 things can the micro-CHP industry learn from this?

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Despite being one of Europe’s largest heating system markets, heat pump sales remain weak in the UK – how can the industry find optimism on the road ahead?

This time last year the UK heat pump industry was enthusiastic, expecting unprecedented growth driven by the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). A year later the hangover is slowly receding and a more realistic outlook is starting to prevail.

As shown in our latest country report published under the Delta-ee Heat Pump Research Service, the UK heat pump market declined slightly in 2014 and for 2015 we at best expect a slow recovery of sales. There are 4 key reasons for this:

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