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All-propane heat pumps by 2027 “impossible”

BELGIUM: European industry group EPEE has called for a realistic HFC phase down in order to meet EU plans to move away from fossil fuels.

At a meeting at the European Parliament last week, hosted by shadow rapporteur and MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos, EPEE’s director general Folker Franz spoke out about the F-gas revision proposals which would ban the use of HFCs with GWPs of 150 or more in new heat pumps from January 1, 2027, leaving “natural” refrigerants as the only current option.

“We don’t see how you can move to fully natural refrigerant heat pumps as early as 2027 as this commission proposal will do. This is a discussion we need to come up with a realistic schedule with a realistic timeline of how fast this refrigerant transition can take place in order to have a proper energy transition in heating and cooling,” he said.

Franz maintained that the industry needs certainty, the investment and time to ramp up production to meet the large number of new heat pumps that would need to be installed by 2030 in order to meet EU targets. He said this was not helped by the European Commission’s recently produced impact assessment study that said that all residential heat pumps would be able to run on propane as early as 2025.

“We don’t see that this is possible. We have some technologies, clearly, but not all,” he said.

He went further to say that what the European Commission had put on the table was de facto phase out of all HFCs for new equipment and all the new equipment would in theory have to be manufactured without HFCs.

In addition, while for the 35.8% of the European population who live in large detached house with ample outside space, a monobloc heat pump running on propane would be possible, that was not the case for the majority of the housing stock.

EPEE’s Folker Franz (far right) at last week’s F-gas meeting with other speakers (left to right) Mary B Walsh of the EFCTC, Marco Buoni of AREA and Valerie Rampi of European medical technology trade association MedTech

EPEE’s stance is supported to some degree by Sara Skyttedal of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, who backed extending the 2027 deadline to 2030 in a recently published draft opinion.

Skyttedal said she was of the opinion that “certain provisions of the Commission’s proposal could potentially jeopardise the clean energy transformation in heating and cooling and the achievement of EU energy independence, creating an additional burden to the European industry as well as to European consumers who wish to switch towards sustainable and efficient heating and cooling solutions”. 

Skyttedal proposals called for “amendments to ensure the availability of a full and diverse range of refrigerants” for heating and cooling installations, in line with the Repower EU’s ambition to frontload the deployment of heat pumps by 2030, as well as the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. 

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