IEA: Global energy crisis driving ‘surge’ in heat pump sales

Worldwide sales of heat pumps are set to soar to record levels in the coming years as the global energy crisis accelerates their adoption, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed in a new report released today (30 November).

IEA: Global energy crisis driving ‘surge’ in heat pump sales

Clean Heat Market Mechanism stipulates that heating manufacturers must progressively increase the proportion of heat pumps in their output.

The heating of most buildings around the world – such as homes, offices, schools and factories – still relies on fossil fuels, predominantly natural gas.

Heat pumps are an efficient and lower-carbon solution, which can help consumers save money on bills and enable countries to cut their reliance on imported fossil fuels, according to the IEA special report –The Future of Heat Pumps. The organisation claims this the first comprehensive global outlook on the subject.

The heat pump market has been growing strongly in recent years, due to falling costs and strong incentives, the IEA summarises. Global heat pump sales rose by nearly 15% in 2021, double the average of the past decade, led by the European Union where they rose by around 35% year-on-year.

Sales in 2022 are set to hit record levels as organisations respond to the global energy crisis, especially in Europe where some countries are seeing sales double in the first half of 2022 compared with the same period last year.

Annual sales of heat pumps in the EU could rise to seven million by 2030 – up from two million in 2021 – if governments succeed in hitting the bloc’s emissions reduction and energy security goals.

Heating buildings accounts for one-third of EU gas demand today. Heat pumps could reduce that demand by nearly seven billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2025 compared with 2022 – roughly equal to the natural gas supplied via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline in 2021. This annual gas saving would grow to at least 21 bcm by 2030 if EU climate targets are met.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said: “Heat pumps are an indispensable part of any plan to cut emissions and natural gas use, and an urgent priority in the EU today.

“The technology is tried and tested, even in the coldest of climates. Policymakers should be putting their weight behind this technology that is witnessing unprecedented momentum at the moment. Heat pumps will be central to efforts to ensure everyone can heat their homes this winter and next, to protect vulnerable households and businesses from high prices, and to meet climate objectives.”

Despite the fact that they may be expensive to initially purchase and install, heat pumps typically cost less over their lifetimes than fossil fuel boilers, thanks to their higher efficiency. At today’s energy prices, annual energy bill savings for households that switch to heat pumps can range from $300 in the US to $900 in Europe.

Birol added: “All the pieces are in place for the heat pump market to take off, reminiscent of the trajectory we have seen in other key climate technologies like solar PV and electric vehicles.

“Heat pumps address many of policymakers’ most pressing concerns on energy affordability, supply security and the climate crisis. Policy measures are in place today, but they need to be reinforced urgently to allow heat pumps fulfil their significant economic and environmental potential.”

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