Solar-Powered Heat Pumps Cut Energy Cost for European Homes in 2022
Heat pump installations grew by 42% to 2.4 million units in 2022
A typical household in Germany, Spain, and Italy saved over €2,800 (~$3,000) on their energy bills by installing the combination of a 7-8 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system with electricity-based heat pumps, a recent report released by SolarPower Europe, a member-led association for the European solar PV sector said.
Italy tops the three European countries as individual homes saved €3,766 (~$4,030.6) in the last year. It was followed by Germany where a typical household saved €3,614 (~$3,867.8), and Spain where each household saved around €2,831 (~$3,029.8), the report said.
The saving account for 62% of the total energy bill in Germany, 84% in Spain, and 83% in Italy.
The report found that an individual household in Germany, Spain, and Italy that installed only solar PV save up to 22% or €1,263 (~$1,350), 40% or €1,352 (~$1,445.5), and 64% or €2,935 (~$3,137.9) on their energy bills.
Figure 1: Annual savings in percentage for homes with different power and heating technologies in Germany, Spain, and Italy in 2022. Source: SolarPower Europe
The total heat pump installations increased by 42% to reach 2.4 million units in Europe last year. Owing to a notable increase in the adoption of solar systems, the total annual solar PV installations also increased by 47% to 41.4 GW in Europe last year.
While a typical German household paid an energy bill of €5,850 (~$6,254) without installing the combo, those who installed an 8 kW solar PV with heat pump paid only €2,230 (~$2,384) in 2022.
Further, to avail effective benefits from installing the combination of solar PV and heat pumps, it is crucial for households to install a buffer storage tank alongside the heat pump, so the warm water can be stored and utilized later.
The report projects that the average buffer storage sizes of such tanks in Italy and Spain would be 400-800 litres.
Heating demand and solar PV
The rapid spike in energy prices that started in 2021 boosted the demand for electricity-based heat, and heat pump is the key technology used for this purpose. The heat pump market in Europe grew by nearly 38% in 2022, as 20 million heat pumps were installed in the EU.
Policy Director at SolarPower Europe Dries Acke observed, “European policymakers need to bring the benefits of gas-free homes to the wider population. Payback times must be reduced for new solar PV + heat pumps by supporting household upfront investment and offering loans at low-interest rates. Policy makers should also level the playing field and end all state support for fossil gas heating.”
An IEA report said that the sales of heat pumps are expected to soar to record levels this decade as countries look to shift away from fossil fuel dependence for heating requirements.
Last May, the European Commission said it would work towards doubling the deployment rate of heat pumps and measures to integrate geothermal and solar thermal energy in communal heating systems.
Image Courtesy: SolarPower Europe