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Pump up the volume

There was a real buzz at the latest European Heat Pump Forum in Brussels, following calls to put the technology at the heart of the European Energy Union, says Eirini Litina

‘Heat pumps at the heart of the Energy Union’ was the title of this year’s 8th European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) Heat Pump Forum. It took place on 28 May in Brussels.

The topic was inspired by the recent political discussions on what really constitutes the European Energy Union.

The presentations, interventions and panel discussions provided ample evidence that heat pumps contribute to all dimensions of the Energy Union debate.

The conference opened with a statement from the EHPA President Martin Forsén, who shared his vision on the future of Europe’s energy system and the need for the ‘heatpumpification’ of society.

“Heat pumps provide renewable and efficient solutions for space heating and cooling, as well as hot water for residential, commercial and industrial applications,” he said.

“They are also a cheap and available energy storage option and help to balance the electricity grid.

They can be combined with other renewable technologies, waste-treatment, district heating, CHP and they can even be used in dryers, dishwashers and cars.

“Heat pumps are not just any technology. They are a smart solution to avoid wasting energy, the same way as a fridge is an undisputed solution to avoid spoiling food. Heat pumps close energy cycles. They are a booster to the energy transition.”

The EHPA’s call to the European Commission (EC) to put heat pumps ‘at the heart of the Energy Union’ was answered by EC vice-president Sefcovic.

In a video addressed to the participants of the Forum, he recognised the technologies’ role in meeting all the objectives of the Energy Union (climate change mitigation, energy security, competitiveness) and expressed both his personal and his administration’s support of their further deployment through upcoming EU policies on heating and cooling, market design, circular economy and research.

The Forum’s morning sessions shed further light on the potential and the challenges for heat pumps in the EU policy framework (gas and electricity prices, building and energy-related product policies) and presented the promising applications for industrial processes.

Paul Hodson, head of the energy efficiency unit  at DG Energy, acknowledged that little attention has been paid so far to heating and cooling. Mr Hodson stressed that the EC is now fully aware of the huge potential of the sector.

“We like heat pumps,” he said and reassured the audience that the technology will have a central part in the heating and cooling strategy, a first version of which can be expected in late November.

State of play

The second panel discussed the current state of industrial and commercial heat pump installations in Europe and their important environmental and economic potential.

The main challenges and opportunities were presented to the audience and it became obvious that industrial and commercial heat pumps are a powerful way of bringing heat-pump benefits to industry, commerce and cities, the latter by integrating them in thermal energy grids (previously known as district heating).

The afternoon’s session focused on the role of local authorities and their experiences with heat pumps.

Brussels energy minister Céline Fremault explained in her keynote speech how the Brussels Region approached the goal of a larger share of renewables and increased energy efficiency.

“The Brussels region has become a good example of a green, regional energy system,” she said.

Among the main challenges discussed were information and subsidies from and to local policymakers.

Urszula Stepkowska from DG Trade used the opportunity to show the Commission’s support for green-tech as an export opportunity for Europe. She presented the current state of negotiations on the International Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA).

The conference ended with a presentation of the promising status of the heat pump markets of France, Poland and Denmark.

Thomas Nowak, secretary-general of the association, stated: “The times when heat pumps were overlooked in the political debate are over.

I can only thank the Commission and many other stakeholders for giving the technology the recognition it deserves. It is a solution for many pressing issues in the transition towards a sustainable energy system.

“It’s usually said that overnight success takes 15 year of hard work – it is not a coincidence that heat pumps are acknowledged in all major pieces of energy-related legislation and that we celebrate the association’s 15th anniversary today.”

The 8th EHPA Forum was the most well-attended heat pump conference so far, a room buzzing with discussion and a set of presentations that clearly shows that the European Commission is looking in the right direction when supporting heat pump solutions for its Energy Union. 

More details

  • The full programme of EHPA Forum 2015 can be found at http://forum.ehpa.org/programme-27-28-29-may-2015/
  • The video speech of vice-president Sefcovic can be found here: goo.gl/QMjh8L
  • Twitter: #heatpumpforum2015
  • EHPA position on the Energy Union (and more on heat pumps): www.ehpa.org
  • The 9th EHPA Forum will be hosted in Paris in May 2016.

For more information please contact us at info@ehpa.org

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