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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Heat over delayed EU heat pump plan

The European Commission’s decision deliver its hotly anticipated Heat Pump Action Plan late next year instead of this month is a “mistake” that will impact the sector and €7 billion ($7.6 billion) worth of investments, the European Heap Pump Association’s (EHPA) secretary general Thomas Nowak says in a statement.

Angela Skujins ↗

An email sent from the European Commission yesterday to the Brussels-based EHPA – with parts seen by pv magazine – states the Heat Pump Action Plan will not be released in the “very busy Q1 2024” but after the European Parliament elections wrap up, most likely in the “autumn or winter 2024/25.”

pv magazine asked the European Commission for confirmation and a reason for the delay. A spokesperson said that preparatory work for the plan is “ongoing” but they could not provide a precise date for when it will be released.

EHPA secretary general Thomas Nowak said postponing the release of the Heat Pump Action Plan – a four-pronged policy aiming to accelerate heat pump deployment and support the market – is a “mistake.”

Shifting the publication date will not only impact the sector, which has already reported sluggish sales ↗ and being impacted by “weak” EU laws ↗, could put €7 billion worth of European investment at risk, he said. “We urge President von der Leyen, Commissioner for Energy Simson and all Commissioners to review and revert it urgently,” Nowak said.

“It will impact Europe’s path to net zero and all the consumers who want nothing more than to be able to choose affordable and sustainable clean heating.”

Public consultation for the plan opened from April to May this year, receiving over 130 responses from business owners, developers and industry players on how the policy should be shaped and implemented.

Several economic and non-economic barriers are hampering Europe’s heat pump rollout, and as a result, deployment cannot match “the speed required for the energy transition,” according to a submission from Italian energy provider Enel.

“The risk of supply chain disruptions is becoming an increasing matter of concern for the large-scale roll-out of heat pumps,” the submission reads.

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The workforce lacks skilled installers and workers leading to a “bottleneck” of European projects, according to a submission from EuropeOn – a Belgium-based association representing the interests of electrical contractors.

“Investing in VET programs and schools, making apprenticeships appealing for prospective students and for employers, and ensuring parity of esteem between technical education and academia,” could be one way of addressing this shortcoming, according to the submission.

In June the EHPA and 23 other organizations released their own heat pump acceleration plan ↗, which states that if the EU wants to install 60 million heat pumps by the end of the decade – of which 20 million are currently in use – it needs to address information and affordability, workforce shortage and other issues.

Meanwhile, research firm EUPD said heat pump sales have steadily increased throughout the year in Germany “despite the lack of planning certainty caused by the subsidy structure and budget freeze,” according to the press release.

Almost 300,000 heat pumps were sold in the northern European country as of the third quarter of 2023, which well surpassed last year’s sales figures of 236,000, the EUPD said. Despite this growth, the organization warns that data provided by the federal economics office, the Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle, shows that subsidy applications are dwindling. Applications dropped by 73% from 29,060 monthly applications in 2022 to 7,845 per month in 2023, according to the data.

“However, it is important to distinguish between sales or customer demand for heat pumps and the number of subsidy applications,” they said in the press release. “Despite the decline in subsidy applications, the sales performance of heat pumps has remained strong from quarter to quarter.”

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BFIA Admin
BFIA Admin
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