Global Demand for Heat Pumps Rises Sharply as Climate Concerns Escalate

Heat pumps are likely to increase in construction by two times by 2030


Sales of heat pumps worldwide increased by 11% in 2022, spurred by the global shift towards reliable and environmentally friendly heating, a recent analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. This is the second consecutive year with a double-digit growth rate.

The increase in policy support and incentives is driving the surge in demand for heat pumps globally, especially in Europe, where sales have reached an all-time high, with air-to-water models experiencing a growth rate of almost 50%.

In the U.S., heat pump purchases have surpassed those of gas furnaces. However, China’s heat pump market has remained constant due to a general economic slowdown.

To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, global heat pump sales must increase by more than 15% annually over the next decade.

Heat pumps currently provide heating for 10% of building heating requirements worldwide, but they need to cater to almost 20% by 2030 to meet all existing national energy and climate commitments.

The report said that the installation of heat pumps in multi-story apartment buildings and commercial spaces should be prioritized, along with energy efficiency retrofits, to ensure maximum efficiency and appropriate sizing.

Figure 1 Annual growth in sales of heat pumps in buildings worldwide and in selected markets, 2021 and 2022 Figure 1: Annual growth in sales of heat pumps in buildings worldwide and in selected markets, 2021 and 2022 | Source: IEA

Heat Pump Sales in Europe Reach Record High

Europe saw a significant increase in heat pump sales in 2022, with almost 3 million units sold, a 40% increase from the previous year.

The spike was caused by a rise in natural gas and electricity prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting consumers to switch to more efficient heat pumps.

According to IEA’s World Energy Outlook published recently, the global energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is accelerating the transition to a more sustainable and secure energy system.

The European Commission aims to double the deployment rate of heat pumps in the region, and most EU countries offer financial incentives to achieve this goal.

France’s heat pump sales surpassed those of fossil fuel boilers in 2022, coinciding with a national ban on gas boilers in new buildings.
Figure 2 Ratio between sales of heat pumps and fossil fuel-based heating systems for buildings in selected countries, 2021 and 2022 Figure 2: Ratio between sales of heat pumps and fossil fuel-based heating systems for buildings in selected countries, 2021 and 2022 | Source: IEA

Asia and North America Dominate the Market

North America leads in heat pump capacity for building heating, with the United States surpassing gas furnaces in sales last year.

IEA projected that constant policy support like the Inflation Reduction Act passed by the United States would boost the deployment and adoption of heat pumps globally.

Air-to-air models are prevalent in residential units, with larger ducted air systems commonly used. In China, the largest global market, heat pump sales slowed but still exceeded all other countries.

District heating is still popular in Northern China, while air-to-air reversible units are common in the milder South. Japan and Korea have stable sales of air-to-air heat pumps, focusing on replacing less efficient models.

Upfront costs limit heat pump deployment in Central Asia and some parts of Eastern Europe, but they could play a role in decarbonizing district heating networks.

Incentives Drive Heat Pump Deployment

Financial incentives available in over 30 countries around the world have boosted heat pump sales, with these countries accounting for more than 70% of global building heating demand.

Many of the schemes were strengthened or introduced in 2022, with subsidy levels increasing in several countries since the beginning of the year.

In most major markets, financial incentives now make the purchase of cheaper heat pump models comparable to that of a new gas boiler for consumers.

However, there are still some countries where electricity tariffs and energy taxation put heat pumps at a disadvantage relative to fossil fuel boilers.

The report further said that the continued growth of heat pumps also requires secure and resilient supply chains, as manufacturers with headquarters in Japan and China account for nearly 70% of the global market.

Expanding production capacity by 2030 to the level outlined in the IEA’s pathway to net zero emissions would require additional investments of $15 billion globally.

Better Data Crucial Expedited Deployment

The report further suggests that to speed up the adoption of heat pumps, it is important to have detailed information on their usage, capacity, and building type. Better international collaboration could help share best practices and standardize reporting.

The need for more data on large-scale heat pumps used in industry and district heating is a concern, as they play an important role in decarbonizing heat.


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