Home MOREENERGY Sparking an Energy Revolution, by Chris White.

Sparking an Energy Revolution, by Chris White.

Failure to create standard energy subsidies across the European Union is the principle reason that it is not on track to meet its climate target. 

by EUToday Correspondents
0 comment
The installation of heat pumps in new and older properties would almost completely transform heating away from gas and electric boilers and put climate change on track.

As Patrick Crombez, General Manager Heating and Renewables of Daikin Europe explains, subsidies on fossil fuels have been gradually ending. Adding: “Almost three years ago we put forward a four-step decarbonisation plan and the impact of heat pumps on that. An important factor is refurbishment and renewable technology. Heat pumps conform with that”. 

As the world’s climate is reported to be heating dangerously another key factor Patrick Crombez stresses is that heat pumps can also provide cooling. “New buildings are much more efficiently insulated. That means they do not need so much energy to heat but also that they are much more difficult to cool even by opening windows. Any heat pump can also cool and that means it does not need added investment in new build to have a cooling system”. 

New buildings today usually include solar panelling, and he points out that while that may not provide 100 percent of the energy in certain weather conditions to accommodate heating it is also supportive of heat pumps providing cooling.

But the future of heat pumps is strongly linked to the ratio between electricity and gas prices. He explains: “To explain that the difficulty we have is taxation and levies. In some countries the cost of running a boiler is currently cheaper than running a heat pump. In some countries the ratio electricity/gas is 2 to 2.5. We see that in France and last year in Germany but in Belgium, where I live, the ratio higher and therefore it hardly ever makes sense economically to run a heat pump.” 

In a striking remark he stresses that energy prices should “make it interesting for people to install heat pumps” adding: “in my view they should keep the energy subsidies for people who cannot afford it but nowadays it runs the opposite way. People who can afford heat pumps should not get subsidies, if the running cost are better, they will shift to HP’s. That way subsidies can be kept for those that need the help to cover the initial financial outlay”.

He explains that: “The moment the user is seeing a benefit in using a heat pump the market will shift. It means we need to see a level playing field between gas and electricity to unblock the market”.

The European Commission recently announced that it plans for 60 million heat pumps to be installed by 2030. According to Patrick Crombez that would mean that half of homes would have heat pumps, but he added: “At the present rate that is not going to happen”.

That, he declares, is the whole point of putting measures in place to switch the markets and also gearing up to enable the industry to increase production capacity and to train installers. That is the purpose of the heat pump acceleration plan that was announced by the EU Energy Commissioner two weeks ago. There is now an official platform within the Commission to systematically follow up the measure and ensure they are adequate to meet to goals.

Kadri Simpson

European Commissioner for Energy, Estonia’s Kadri Simpson has also confirmed the EU’s commitment to solar energy, including the manufacture of solar panels in the EU.

Asked about typical costs of installation Patrick Crombez explained: “In a new house it is quite straightforward. The cost difference between a gas boiler and a heat pump in a new building is rather minimal because in a new construction with the current energy rating that houses need to achieve it becomes even cheaper to install a heat pump than to install a boiler and also add the additional solar panels and additional insulation etcetera to achieve the energy levels. That is pretty much the case in most parts of Europe right now.

“In older houses it depends pretty much on whether you have to change the radiators; if you have low temperature radiators you don’t need to change them.

With developments such as high temperature heat pumps you do not need to change radiators unless you have early 19th century ones which, although they look nice, would need replacing”. 

He added: “Most radiator systems would work with the high temperature heat pumps and that means many people can avoid the cost and the structural work involved in replacing them.” 

You may also like

Leave a Comment


EU Today brings you the latest news and commentary from across the EU and beyond. 

Editors' Picks

Latest Posts