[EA6] The ‘magical moment’ is now: Decarbonise heat in the EU

Electrifying heat would push Europe significantly closer to its decarbonisation goals. And there is no time to wait: The heating and cooling sector currently accounts for 50% of the EU’s final energy consumption. Luckily, we don’t need to wait for a ‘magical moment’ to deploy solutions such as heat pumps. Even with today’s power mix, switching to electrified heat would markedly reduce emissions. Substantially increasing the use of renewable energy sources at the same time is pivotal for cementing the effectiveness of this solution.


  • Jan Rosenow, RAP
  • Georg Thomaßen, Agora Energiewende




Links & resources

The decarbonisation of the EU heating sector through electrification: A parametric analysis

Questions received during the webinar dd May 26, 2021

[1] Is the market prepared to install heat pumps at large scale? Are there installers with the right skills? 

[2] an annual average COP is misleading for max electricity demand. when air-air or air-water heatpumps are used the COP on temperatures below zero goes close to 1. 

[3] What can be said about the building retrofits needed to adopt heat pumps? I mean that heat pumps will likely operate at lower supply temperatures than conventional boilers. Change of radiators, calorifiers, floor/wall heating? 

[4] Isn’t the Danish approach better? Large solar thermal systems with seasonal heat storages for district heating systems?! Reducing the stress on the electric grid - especially in winter times, when there is less renewable electricity from PV plants. 

[5] Will the heat pumps require typically an increase of power capacity needed for a household?  So new power cable and extra load on power grid in residential areas? 

[6] Any reason why I cannot see Greece? 

[7] how did the researchers analyse district heating vs individual building heat pumps? HP in densely populated areas might not be possible... just think that all neighbours in townhouse areas start drilling in their back- or frontyards..., 

[8] Instead of using central gas-fired plants, decentralized CHP can do the same, and also shift operation due to the thermal storage that can be attached to it.

[9] Do these scenarios on p27 take into account the increasing electricity demand for mobility etc.? 

[10] how about systems analysis? increasing demand from both electric transport and heat pumps... where would the electricity come from and how about transmission and distribution capacity (incl transformer stations, etc) in urban areas? 

[11] In which MS are advanced demand response projects / programmes being rolled out, with heat pumps involved? 

[12] Heat pumps using ground water or low temperature heating grids should be much more efficient than those based on air. Which do you assume? 

[13] Is the 1.1 to 1.6 TW of HP capacity the electrical capacity (needs) or the thermal capacity (delivery)? 

[14] on slide 27 could you explain the Uk position at the bottom of the table please

[15] Heat pump policy needs a stronger support as there is a hydrogen hype going on at the moment., 

[16] Can you specify from where you obtained the data for Malta?

[17] How do you envisage decarbonisation of heat for industry (i.e. where temperatures exceed those achievable with heat pumps)? A combination of hydrogen, biomass, electrification and CCUS? 

[18] in less densely populated areas and rural areas where forestry products (woodchips, pellets) are available the cheapest option for a houseowner should be to replace the fossil fuel boiler. no need to retrofit buildings other heating parts, such as radiators, etc. This also increases income for local farmers, forests owners and creates sustainable jobs. Heat pumps are installed once and electricity comes from outside the community..., 

[19] Heatpumps are great for Demand Side Management (DSM)! Peak demand for gas was an issue raised by Jan.

[20] We see that your work isn't only a matter of geothermal heat, but of a rational management over all the energy system, where the recognition of the role of heat-to-electricity is basic. 

[21] Reduction because of geothermal pumps, corresponding to 3.4-4.9% of EU total emissions, is also STABLE (i.e., almost constant in time), contributing to the energy grid reliability, isn't it?

[22] Flexibility of operation is in fact one of the traits of energy integration, i.e. one of the aspects of the transition to a new (yet unknown) kind of energy systems. What do you think? 

[23] A large share of buildings in Europe are connected to the natural gas infrastructure using gas for heating. the micro-CHP is another option there... how does that compare with HP?