5 May 2023 | 2 minutes.

How Heat Pumps Work


Athena Fosler-Brazil
Trainee Correspondent, REVOLVE

Athena Fosler-Brazil, Trainee Correspondent, REVOLVE

Heat pumps are a key technology for the energy transition to more affordable renewables.

As Europe strives for carbon-neutrality by 2050 while dealing with energy security complications with Russia’s war in Ukraine, accessible renewable energy will grow increasingly vital to the Continent’s sustainability goals and economic health.

Due in part to the energy crisis, the unprecedented growth in 2022 of heat pump sales in Europe shows that the technology is increasingly a solution for providing greater energy efficiency and now energy independence since the units can rely directly on renewables, thus bypassing our dependence on oil and gas.

Heat pumps come in different sizes, depending on whether they are used for industrial (large), urban (medium) and residential (small) purposes. They can provide zero-emission heating and cooling in buildings of all types. Here is how heat pumps work:

Energy production and consumption account for 75% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, and the decarbonization of the energy sector will be critical in the continent’s transition to carbon neutrality. Heating and cooling account for 50% of total energy consumption in the EU and only 11% of the energy used for heating and cooling is renewable.

Heat pumps rely on ambient air, geothermal heat and groundwater for 80% of the energy needed for them to function, and if the remaining 20% is supplied by renewables like wind and solar, heat pumps can be entirely carbon neutral. The EU has set targets to decouple economic growth from resource consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the 2030.

Heat pump technology represents a significant opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector and ensure that existing and future infrastructure is greener and more efficient.

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