EHPA collects data on heat pump sales and market development for 21 countries. In 2012, a total of 755,044 heat pumps were sold. The number of man-years required to manufacture the annual production exceeds 40,000. In total more than 5.45 million heat pump units were put into operation since 2005. Adding data from available statistics for Germany (since 1989), Austria (since 1989) and Sweden (since 1994), the number of units in operation exceeds 6 million. After three years of stagnation, the sales in the European heat pump market shrunk by 7.4% from 2011 to 2012.
The total heat pump stock installed has a thermal capacity of nearly 36 MW producing 59.9 TWh of useful energy, 41 TWh of which being renewable. Their use saved 52 TWh of final and 29.5 TWh of primary energy in 2012. Using heat pumps in Europe is responsible for 10.87 Mt of greenhouse gas emission savings. Looking at heat pump sales by energy source used, not much changed compared to last year’s situation: air is and will remain the dominant energy source for heat pumps. Sanitary hot water heat pumps continue to lead the small group of categories that are growing.
Annual growth (and current lack thereof) is influenced by several factors. Most influential is the sluggish construction sector. If buildings are not renovated, the question of which heating system to choose does not even occur. Once this decision needs to be taken, heat pumps suffer from a high initial investment cost, a short-term decision horizon, and a high electricity costs, which influence the total cost of ownership of a heat pump system.
Heat pumps provide multiple benefits to society at large that would justify more government support. In 2012, additional heat pump capacity of nearly 5.7 MW was installed producing about 9.5 TWh of useful energy, integrating 6.22 TWh of renewables in heating and cooling, thus avoiding 1.71 Mt of CO2-equivalent emissions. An additional 4.61 TWh of primary energy was saved resulting in reduced final energy demand of 8.19 TWh. In order to produce the 2012 sales volume and to maintain the installed stock, a total of 40,358 man-years were necessary. Obviously real employment related to the heat pump market is larger.
Europe’s energy and climate strategy reveals that both the renewable energy target and the energy efficiency target might not be reached. The observable gap could easily closed by heat pumps. The tremendous unused potential is underlined by a 2013 study by Ecofys that includes data from 8 European key markets (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and the UK), and concludes that an ambitious heat pump scenario would lead to a 47% decrease of greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector (compared to current levels) by 2030. This will require a heat pump-based strategy for heating and cooling with significant government interventions in all Member States of the European Union. Clearly, today’s business as usual approach will not be enough to unearth the technology’s potential.