The Rise and Rise of the Heat Pump
Reasons to be cheerful
No news is good news, or so they say. Well that’s certainly not the case with regard to the current heat pump market. We have news and it is good news for new and experienced installers of heat pumps across Europe. Heat pumps of course provide an energy-efficient alternative to heating and air-conditioning systems in residential, commercial or industrial buildings. Moving heat rather than burning it is less wasteful and more beneficial in the long run, not just for the environment in emitting less C02, but also for the bank account!
Quite simply, heat pumps are a great deal more cost effective than oil and gas boilers. This is in part down to their lengthy life-span which means minimal maintenance is required. With so many benefits, it’s little wonder that the European heat pump market is continuing to show steady growth year on year. 2014 saw the sales of heat pumps rise by as much as 3.5% while the latest data for 2015 suggests that this positive trend is set to continue.
Speaking of trends, there are some major consistencies with regard to the current market. These provide a useful insight into where the future of heat pumps lies. Firstly, the main energy source for heat pumps is air. This is set to remain the case for years to come. Secondly, the fastest growing heat pump segment in Europe is the sanitary hot water heat pump, as shown by their double digit growth in 2014. And finally, larger heat pumps used for commercial and industrial applications are continuing to grow in popularity. But let’s get to what we’re all here for – the numbers!
Now for the exciting part! If we take a look at the numbers, we can see that some 796,746 heat pump units were sold across Europe in 2014, according to the latest EHPA report. Particularly impressive growth occurred in larger markets such as France which experienced annual sales of more than 100,000 units, as did Italy. Meanwhile the likes of Germany, Spain, Norway and Finland all saw sales of over 50,000 units for the year.
While the big volume was shifted by aforementioned countries such as France and Italy, other countries experienced particularly strong growth on previous years. Notably, Ireland’s sales rose by an impressive 53.5% while Lithuania saw a 52.1% sales growth. The large volume of heat pumps sold by France is reflected in its 27.1% growth in 2014. Poland also performed well, showing 24.6% growth. A number of European countries have experienced particularly positive development not just in the last year but consistently over the past 2 to 3 years. Needless to say such numbers are certainly encouraging. But what’s behind this rise?
The reasons behind the growth
Certain mature markets have visibly enjoyed particular development. France and Norway for example, can put much of their growth down to the number of development projects in progress. Many of these projects have to look for energy and money saving solutions and thus turn to heat pumps to meet their energy and cash saving needs. What’s more, certain governments are introducing stricter building requirements – heat pumps can help people adhere to these regulations. This is one particularly promising reason for the growth, as other countries may well follow suit. And it’s not just down to renovation. Increasing investments from those looking at long-term savings also have quite an effect. Consumers are becoming wary of the ever-increasing oil and natural gas prices and have started seeking alternative solutions.
The environmental benefits of heat pumps alone are enough to persuade many to invest. 2014 saw over 6.6 GW of total heat pump capacity installed. This produced an estimated 13 TWh of useful energy. Notably, this avoided 2.09 Mt in C02-equivalent emissions.
Based on the 2014 sales volume, 43,465 years of labour were necessary – this includes everything from the production of heat pumps to their installation and maintenance. Since 1995, more than 7.5 million heat pump units have been installed across Europe. This equates to 66.3 GW of installed thermal capacity.
All installed heat pumps produce 133.4 TWh of useful energy. Of this number, 85.8 TWh is renewable. The use of heat pumps saved some 109.3 TWh of final and 51.7 TWh of primary energy. The heat pumps stock helped to avoid 22.1 Mt of CO2 emissions. Essentially, they’re performing their role as they should.
Looking to the future
There are certainly plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of heat pumps. Market growth looks set to continue as more and more people look to make a positive environmental impact and create a more long-term financial plan. France produces the most renewable energy by some distance and led the way with regard to the number of heat pump units sold in 2014. Sweden also produces more renewable energy than most European countries and sells well.
If we were to take the significant growth of the Scandinavian countries and apply it to the other European countries, annual sales of heat pumps would be 5 times as many as today – some 4.9 million units per year. Should much of Europe follows this trend set by the likes of Finland and Norway, the coming years are shaping up to be extremely positive for the European heat pump market.
What’s more, a number of policies currently in place are set to boost heat pumps further. One of these policies is energy labelling. Ranging from A++ to G, this will provide consumers with essential information about the energy and environmental performance of the heat pump, providing them with greater confidence in the product. This is vital since many consumers don’t actually realize that there are viable alternatives to the traditional furnace or air conditioning unit. This increased awareness among consumers can encourage the production of better, more efficient heat pumps that can help meet renewable energy and energy efficiency targets in the years to come.