To become carbon neutral by 2050, replacement rates of our heating systems need to increase six-fold from where they are today. It’s time for boiler and heat pump manufacturers to make an impact and facilitate low-carbon heating solutions.
The promise of decarbonisation
Heating and cooling markets account for a significant share of carbon emissions. And so far, the road to decarbonisation has been slow-going.
In 2020, European homes still hosted over 100 million fossil fuel boilers and the share of fossil fuels in the overall energy consumption for heat has only decreased by a few percent over the last decade.
So what is the role of boiler and heat pump manufacturers and how can they deliver on the growing demand for low-carbon heating?
Heat pumps are on a quiet rise
Heat pumps present a promising solution to reach the EU's targets by 2050 and remove fossil fuels from heating installations.
But despite being the most sustainable alternative, they are today only found in 15 million European homes. At this rate, it would take more than 200 years for the remaining fossil boilers in Europe to be replaced by low-carbon alternatives.
Demand for low-carbon alternatives is increasing
There is a clear demand for efficient low-carbon installations and boiler and heat pump manufacturers are pressured to serve this demand.
Alternative heating systems, such as electric heat pumps, gas heat pumps, hybrid pumps and plug-and-play modular approaches, are becoming increasingly available and accepted as viable alternatives in the industry.
Also among end-users, high-efficiency heating options are more and more in demand, especially among upcoming generations. A 2020 report by Delta-EE, a leading European research and consultancy company, found that at least 50% of younger people (aged 16-34) are 'very interested' in replacing their existing heating appliances with a more expensive high-efficiency heating appliance.
Apart from rising consumer demands, EU leaders push for more efficient building stock and renovations across Europe and many cities and municipalities have set additional local targets to meet decarbonisation targets.
The challenge of retrofitting
Boiler and heat pump manufacturers can accelerate the change by upscaling the production of energy-efficient pumps. But they also have to make sure that these can be integrated easily into existing heating infrastructures.
Retrofitting lower-carbon alternatives into our current heating systems is often criticised for not reaching high-enough flow temperatures and for being too big or too complex to install. Manufacturers are in a complicated position as their products are expected to deliver this easy and seamless integration.
They have to choose the right components for heat pumps by, for example, choosing between modular or fully integrated solutions, to make heat pumps retrospectively fit into existing systems.
Digitalisation can further reduce carbon emissions
The efficient use of smart technologies can provide more efficient low-carbon heating systems. This way, HVACs can detect inefficiencies through remote monitoring and diagnostics and reduce the time of installers previously spent on on-site visits.
The integration of the right technology can also effectively reduce energy consumption of end-users thanks to more accurate insights on performance and running costs.
Over the next three years, the sale of heat pumps is expected to double. This puts boiler and heat pump manufacturers under pressured to follow consumer and industry trends to stay ahead.
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