BELGIUM: The European heat pump industry has called for more consistent government support after initial sales figures for 2023 show a worrying decline.
The European Heat Pump Association has warned that without stronger and more consistent policies, EU energy goals of 60 million more heat pumps by 2030 may not be met.
After outstanding sales in 2022, first sales figures for 2023 are said to show a worrying decline, indicative of a larger trend.
In Italy, for example, sales between the first halves of 2022 and of 2023 fell by 34%. In Finland, the drop was 17%. In Poland, it was 6% but the current trend, after the second quarter, takes the decline in sales as high as 20-30% compared to 2022.
The sales data collected refers to heat pumps sold to installers and distributors, not to the amount received by end users. In some cases, heat pumps ordered last year by distributors – which were counted as sales in 2022 – are now stocked in warehouses waiting for end user orders.
The EHPA blames the impact of governments changing policies, particularly on subsidies and support for heat pump purchases. Gas prices have also fallen again while electricity prices stay high. “The price ratio between electricity and gas must come down,” the EHPA said.
In Italy, for instance, the EHPA reports that eligibility for the support scheme was drastically tightened and the scheme itself made less generous – even leading to projects being cancelled. “The change to the scheme has left consumers confused and lacking direction,” it says.
In Finland, where sales were high compared to non-Scandinavian countries, the change is attributed to market normalisation following energy price shocks, with higher interest rates, economic uncertainty, and a slowdown in new building projects.
In Poland, changing energy prices, the high price of electricity – which is four times the price of gas – supply chain issues, and a lack of consistent government policy are said to be impacting sales, which were lower in the second compared to the first quarter of 2023.
According to the EHPA, it is now cheaper to run fossil fuel heating than a heat pump in an average Polish home.
“With strong policies and great sales showing a clear path ahead in 2022, heat pump manufacturers invested massively in production capacity. Now, sudden policy changes and unfavourable electricity to gas price ratios have shaken end users’ confidence,” explained EHPA secretary general Thomas Nowak.
“This is a serious threat to the heat pump sector – a key EU net zero industry – as well as slowing Europe on its path towards net zero and energy independence.”
Nowak urged the European Commission to fast forward its upcoming heat pump action plan, and to include measures to ensure long-term stability in demand and affordability of clean heating solutions at its heart. “These measures must then be replicated at national level,” her added.
The heat pump sector’s warning reflects the opinion of many participants at the EU Heat Pump Forum, a two day event which began yesterday, and continues today with a key-note speech from EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.