Heat pumps could be key in replacing Russian gas in Europe – consultancy
Clean Energy Wire
The electrification of the heating sector could be a key component in making Europe become less dependent on Russian gas, according to an internal report by S&P Global Commodity Insights. The energy and commodities information platform sees heat pumps -- a low-carbon alternative to fossil heating technologies -- as a building block to replace Russian gas in the European Union in the long term. “A total of 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas would have to be replaced,” it adds. In order to achieve that goal, it proposes a mix of energy savings, green hydrogen, biomethane, electrification, alternative pipelines, LNG and renewable energy. As part of its Fit-for-55 target, the European Commission aims to double the use of heat pumps to 10 million over the next five years. This measure could save some 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas by the end of 2022 and 35 billion by 2030. The proposed rate could well be achieved if an average of two million heat pumps are installed annually, which corresponds to the number of units sold in Europe in 2021, S&P Global Commodity Insights states. The thermal efficiency of buildings will play a crucial role since the heat output of heat pumps is generally lower than that of natural gas boilers, it adds. Heat pumps could be used on a large scale in most European markets, although some obstacles have hampered their widespread adoption. Heat pumps have a significantly higher initial cost compared to alternative technologies, so their cost parity with competing alternatives would likely be necessary. Renewable energy installations would also have to offset any increase in electricity demand in the heating sector in order to minimise the risk that gas demand will increase due to the increased use of gas-fired power plants.
German households are already increasingly switching to heat pumps when upgrading their heating systems. Heat pump sales grew 30 percent to 156,000 units in Germany last year, according to the Federation of German Heating Industry (BDH).