Heat pumps, boom in Europe: Italy second continental market

Heat pumps, boom in Europe: Italy second continental market

There ecological transition has given wings to the sales of heat pumps. Many Italians have in fact chosen this solution to heat their homes. As is easy to imagine, the phenomenon is not only Italian but European: all the main EU countries are increasingly adopting this “green” technology, also thanks to incentives implemented by governments.

According to data collected by Politecnico di Milano and published within theObservatory on the ecological transition of the Italian economy and businesses (born within the States General of the green economy), at a continental level last year the target of 3 million systems sold was crossed with a growth of approximately 800 thousand units compared to the previous twelve months. About a sixth – 520 thousand heat pumps – came into operation in Italy, which thus updated the 2022 record (383 thousand).

Italy is the second largest European market behind France, which reached 626 thousand installations. In Europe, heat pumps represent approximately 35% of annual sales in the heating sector and account for approximately 15% of the systems installed throughout the European building stock (approximately 116 million buildings).

These performances are not only dictated by incentives, but also by prohibitions. In France, for example, it wants to ban the installation of new gas or oil boilers in all new buildings starting from 2024, while the German government intends to impose a minimum share of production from renewable energy sources greater than 65% in heating of buildings starting next year.

“The machines on the market are, and will be in the coming years, of three types: hybrid heat pumps (combination of a boiler and a small-sized electric heat pump), actual electric heat pumps and heat pumps gas – he explains Mario Motta, professor of the Energy department of the Milanese university – The former are seen as the bridging technology between the current installed stock, dominated by gas boilers and the distant future, when the only generators will be electric heat pumps. Hybrids, also widely sold in Italy with the Superbonus, disappeared when the incentive ceased, since they cost between two and three times as much as a boiler. Thermally powered (gas) heat pumps have been on the market for years, but new Italian products are appearing on the market and could play a role above all in the replacement of boilers in existing buildings that will not undergo renovation of the casing to obtain a reduction in about a third of gas consumption. Electric heat pumps, based on current technologies, are mainly sold in new buildings and will also have a role in the future where at least partial renovations of the system can be carried out”.

The European heat pump market will reach very significant volumes by 2030: the installed stock will rise to 60 million units and expected volumes will be equal to 50 billion euros.

“The investments made are huge, as has never been seen in the world of European heating – continues the Polytechnic professor – Some countries seem to have initiatives that tend to exploit the window (Temporary State aid Crisis and Transition Framework until December 2025) of easing state aid regulations. At the moment there does not appear to be any problems in permanently guaranteeing the offer. To defend the market share, which on average is qualitatively more significant than the Europeans, it might be appropriate to think about starting actions to protect the quality/efficiency of EU products, such as market surveillance”.

According to the expert, there is room to work on a targeted industrial policy initiative to understand how to help a traditionally important sector for theItaly (the heating one) in the transformation from the production of boilers towards propane heat pumps (explicitly mentioned in RePowerEU), using the easing of state aid rules, planning massive aid to domestic industries. In short, the game is still to be played, but theEurope and theItaly can take advantage of the favorable starting position.

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