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Is the French market ready to switch to new gas technologies?

It’s a tough question to answer, but there is definitely a push toward more efficient gas technology in France, suggesting the country is ready for a switch. In our latest research as part of the Gas Heating Service, we covered this interesting market to find out about the evolving role of gas heating appliances in France.

The French market currently has an important share of gas heating (more than 40% of the dwelling stock) but it has not been a straight path. With the nuclear power programme for example, 70% of new homes built in the ‘70s received electric heating. Nowadays, gas heating represents more than 50% of new build. It’s clear gas has an important role and, from our latest research, we are certain of its future in the French 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 future is looking warm for Hybrid Heat Pumps in the UK

With numerous hybrid products now on the market from Daikin, Mitsubishi, Vaillant, Glow-worm and Worcester Bosch, we think that hybrid heat pumps are set to be a key low-carbon technology in the UK in the future. According to our latest forecast from the Microgen Insight Service, hybrid heat pumps could potentially match the size of the current air-source heat pump market (~18,000 installations per year) by 2017. We also see opportunities for strong growth post 2020 - a huge jump from next to nothing today (and zero installations in 2012). This will see hybrids becoming the third most installed microgen technology in the UK by 2017.

Note: The segmented forecast (by each customer group) is only available to members of the MIS.

Why the growth? Hybrids are a key transitional microgen technology…

The UK has the biggest gas heating market in Europe with 90% of homes on-gas and 1.7 million gas boilers being installed per year. It is clear to see that hybrids are well placed to chip away at this monopoly, making use of gas and retrofitting easily to replace / work alongside gas boilers. The gas boiler market is more difficult to conquer for heat pumps (ASHP and GSHP) due to higher electricity prices compared to gas. Our research shows that home owners are warming up to the idea of Hybrids since they make use of a familiar technology (gas boilers) and have intelligent controls which can help lower their energy bills (versus gas heating alone – and savings can be even more pronounced versus LPG / oil).

Key benefits for end users of hybrids include;
  • Hybrids are more familiar territory for customers because they incorporate a gas boiler, providing reassurance of this technology - our end user research shows that providing reassurance to customers is essential for microgen uptake.
  • They offer boiler installers a gateway to expand into the renewables market.
  • Lowest upfront cost compared to all of the other renewable whole house heating solutions.
  • Attractive paybacks and running costs savings for on- and off-gas customers.
  • Hybrids are more retrofitable than pure HPs, with a wide range of designs available and innovative products that can directly replace a combi boiler.
Yet, some important limiting factors have also emerged from our research;

Despite the benefits identified, there are some key limiting factors that prevent our forecast for hybrids growing exponentially. Our primary research with key customer groups, including owner-occupiers (through focus groups, online surveys and in-depth interviews) show that some customers are hesitant to take on a hybrid for the following reasons;
  • They are more costly than maintaining / replacing a gas boiler
  • Low customer and installer awareness
  • The thought of having to maintain two systems rather than one
  • In certain properties it is difficult to achieve a payback without use of  the RHI
  • Perceptions of them being an ‘immature, unproven’ technology
How can manufacturers help to drive forward the uptake of Hybrids? Check out my previous blog on how financial propositions for owner-occupiers are set to unlock the microgen market.

For more information about this research email me or Steven Ashurst - Microgen Insight Service Research Manager.
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