EHPA: EU plan will boost heat pumps but aims too low

The EU’s net-zero industry act, published recently, shows its commitment to European leadership in sustainable sectors like heat pumps.

However, the act is too unambitious and lacks the detail to fully support the heat pump sector as it helps decarbonise European buildings and industry.

The act sets a heat pump target of 31 GW of manufacturing capacity by 2030.  This is far lower than the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) foresees. Even a conservative growth scenario would lead to 47 GW by 2030 – more than 50% higher. This is starting from the estimated 21.95 GW of European-made heat pumps installed in Europe in 2022.

In EHPA’s view it would be more relevant to include the REPowerEU plan’s target of doubling heat pump sales by 2026, and adding intermediary goals.

“This net-zero industry plan is more than just a reply to the US’s Inflation Reduction Act. It is hugely significant for sustainable industries like heat pumps. It must be bolstered in the European Commission’s upcoming heat pump plan through subsector targets, and by setting a pathway towards the REPowerEU goals”, commented Thomas Nowak, secretary general of the European Heat Pump Association.

Today, 60% of heat pumps sold in Europe are manufactured in Europe – and given the sector’s record-breaking sales, EHPA believes this level can be maintained or even extended with the right mix of support measures. The 40% manufacturing target the Act refers to for all the technologies identified is therefore once again, far too low for the heat pump sector.

To this end, it is encouraging to see key crunch points for the heat pump industry, like the shortage of skilled workers and ensuring a fluid supply chain, addressed in the proposed act. EHPA estimates that the number of employees needed to supply the 2030 sales to the market will amount to between 450 and 500,000 FTE (full-time equivalent), compared to around 117,000 today. While some of these will be re-trained boiler installers, others will be new to the industry.

“What’s more, it is crucial that industry is able to input into the EU’s industrial policy. The European heat pump sector is ready to help the European Commission with the next steps, for example by participating in the net zero Europe platform.” concluded Nowak.