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Heat pumps “sidelined” in net zero strategy

BELGIUM: The European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) has accused the European Commission of sidelining heat pumps following today’s adoption of its Industrial Carbon Management Communication to reach net zero.

The EU ‘communication’ – meaning it is not at this point a legislative proposal – sets out how to sustainably capture, store and use carbon to reach climate neutrality by 2050. 

According to the EHPA, the document recognises electrification as the main driver of the energy transition, but the pivotal role of heat pumps in decarbonising heating and cooling in buildings and industry is sidelined.

“What’s more, heat pumps – an electric, renewable heating and cooling technology – feature in the accompanying impact assessment, only get a few mentions in the topline communication. This is despite the key role of heat pumps in the EU’s plan to increase energy independence (REPowerEU) and its strategy for boosting net zero industries (the Net Zero Industry Act),” the EHPA said in a press statement.

“Setting lofty targets but sidelining a crucial technology to reach them is like hiking up a mountain with no equipment,” commented Jozefien Vanbecelaere, the EHPA’s head of EU affairs. “After the postponement of the expected Heat Pump Action Plan, this comes as another blow to a net zero industry that is investing massively in Europe and has huge growth potential.” 

The diminished role of heat pumps in the communication comes alongside the launch of an Industrial Alliance to accelerate the deployment of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) and a communication on industrial carbon management. 

“These technologies are not yet ready to deliver in the market,” the EHPA claimed. “Heat pumps on the other hand are a mature technology that contribute to a long list of the aspects crucial to achieve our 2040 targets.” 

“An energy transition in heating is essential to achieve Europe’s ambitious targets but an energy transition in heating without heat pumps will be impossible. This needs to be remembered in the context of setting a higher greenhouse gas emission reduction target – today’s 2040 plan needs to be connected to action on the ground,” added Vanbecelaere.  

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