5th European Heat Pump Forum - Exclusive interview with Thomas Nowak, EHPA

By Sabine Lobnig, May 02, 2012, 13:15 4 minute reading

On 8 May, EHPA organises the 5th European Heat Pump Forum in Milano, Italy. The focus will be on the European Heat Pump Market with a special angle on implementation of EU legislation in one of the growing heat pump markets with heating and cooling requirements alike: Italy. In the run-up to the forum, hydrocarbons21.com has spoken to Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of EHPA, about related policy issues.

hydrocarbons21.com: Which are the major trends in the current European heat pump market?

Thomas Nowak: On the market side, manufacturing capacity is consolidating - in the past, several smaller and even some larger companies were integrated into the big heat pump manufacturers. The rally towards more cost efficient yet robust solutions demands high manufacturing standards and utilisation of economies of scale.

After being developed mainly from SMEs, many of them focussing on heat pump and related technology, there is now an increasing interest from companies both from the heating and from the cooling side. This is also following a demand side trend for more integrated solutions providing heating, cooling and hot water at the same time.

With regards to technology development, there is a trend towards improved components towards a more efficient product, one aspect of this being the use of capacity modulating compressors.

On a systems perspective, proper design and integration of heat pumps into the production and supply of heating, cooling and hot water of a building is the most important issue. This requires an upgrade in controls - especially when looking at the current smart grids/smart meter debate. As heat pumps can work as demand side technology integrating more renewable electricity into the grids.

Thus, there is development towards opening up the controls interface of a heat pump to make it smarter, enabling it to learn about the usage pattern in the house, about weather forecasts and the availability of green electricity.

hydrocarbons21.com: Which legislations/regulations are currently elaborated that will have the strongest impact on the uptake or lack of uptake in the heat pump market?

Nowak: A number of directives are relevant, most importantly:
  • Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from Renewable Sources (RES Directive)
  • Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)
  • Ecodesign for energy related products-Framework Directive and its implementing measures: Lot 1 and Lot 2 upcomging
  • Energy labeling Directive

Then there are also:
  • Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)
  • Regulation on energy statistics
  • Ecolabel framework Directive
  • Green Public Procurement (GPP)

hydrocarbons21.com: How does EHPA evaluate the possibility of retrofitting existing buildings with heat pumps?

Nowak: Trends in technology provide an increasing number of heat pump types that are ready to be installed in buildings that can be heated with feed-in temperatures of max. 55°C (this is often the case in old buildings with oversized heating systems). Buildings that require higher feed-in temperatures need much closer consideration and a simple 1:1 replacement is not advisable.

So in short: it is often possible - even with good efficiency, but it depends on the building. With the increasing requirements on the renovation of buildings, heat pumps are a perfect solution for any such project.

hydrocarbons21.com: It is often mentioned that heat pump technology is not enough recognised as renewable energy source. How does EHPA propose to better promote heat pumps in the member states?

From the legal perspective - this is no longer an issue, as the RES Directive has defined air, water and ground to be used by heat pumps as a renewable sources. With the greening of the electricity production mix, the minimum requirement for heat pumps to be deemed renewable are constantly decreasing (see graph below). Heat pumps with 100% green electricity are an available, affordable 100% emission free energy source. This potential needs to be recognised with politicians and in consequence, EHPA is stressing the development of proper statistics to make it visible for interested stakeholders and policy makers alike.

Development of the primary energy factor and the minimum SPF for heat pumps to be considered in statistis

We are currently working on a booklet with the tentative title "heat pumps at your fingertips" which will explain the necessary steps to the development of long term heat pump markets.

hydrocarbons21.com: If you were asked to implement an action plan to bring heat pump technology faster to market, what would be your top three priorities?

On the EU level: policy makers need to understand the demand for heating and cooling in the building sector much better. Detailed data is missing. I would thus advise to enlarge the currently foreseen data collection in the EED to small scale power production.

EP, COM and Member State governments need to acknowledge the potential of heat pumps and give it at least institutional, if not financial support.

All subsidy schemes should be evaluated with regard to the impact on climate savings. If the investment into heat pump technology is recompensed for the GHG emission reduction contribution this technology makes, we would not talk about the cost of bringing this technology to market, but its benefit it brings to MS effort to achieve their RES and GHG targets.

While we generally believe that all subsidies for the heating sector should be removed, for as long as they still exist, a renewable heat incentive is probably the best option to push the use of renewable energy in the heating and cooling sector and to reduce GHG emission from this market segments. Heat pump will contribute from such efforts.

Registration for the 5th European Heat Pump Forum

The conference fee for EHPA members is 90 € + VAT, for non-EHPA members is 350 € + VAT. The first 20 students who register are invited to participate for free, above this at the EHPA membership rate (90 €). Policy makers and press attend for free but should still register.


By Sabine Lobnig

May 02, 2012, 13:15

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