The heat pump market is expected to recover as early as 2021 putting goals to reach net-zero emissions for buildings back on track, according to an analysis by BSRIA.
BSRIA released its annual Heat Pump Study back in March 2020, when the first measures to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus were taken in Asia.
At the time of the publication “the extent of the pandemic was far from clear and even less so the impact it would have on the market in the short and medium terms”, according to BSRIA’s analysis.
In order to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the heat pump sector, BSRIA Worldwide Market Intelligence carried out the research in Europe, China and the US.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the industry, the results indicate that sales started declining in March as the lockdown was first implemented by the government in China, but demand is expected to recover as early as 2021 as construction activity bounces back, BSRIA predicts.
European suppliers reported similar issues faced by the local building sector: most construction projects started carried on at a slower pace while some others were cancelled, states BSRIA. Production lines at some HVAC manufacturers had to be put on hold for several weeks and installers saw their new installation projects limited by sanitary guidelines.
However, the measures in place to pull the market towards more energy-efficient buildings and products “proved to be successful”, says BSRIA. Overall, sales of heat pumps in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK remained on an upward trend.
Feedback from European suppliers indicates that the market started to recover over the third quarter, with sales to existing homes offsetting the drop in new projects, says BSRIA.
Provisional forecast until the end of the year point towards a positive result in the main European markets. The package of financial incentives voted under the EU Recovery Fund are foreseen to keep the demand growing, particularly in the replacement sector and double-digit growth rates are likely to be posted in most major European countries, states BSRIA.
However, BSRIA warns that due to the second wave of Covid-19, the “uncertainty surrounding the duration and severity of this crisis make it hard to anticipate how a recovery could unfold for the new construction industry in the medium term”. It points out that the number of new building permits “have already started to decline over the second half of 2020, which will undoubtedly have negative effects in the next 12 to 24 months”.
But BSRIA said it remained “optimistic on the development of the market in the coming years”. The recent announcement made by EU Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen to more drastically reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 is “a clear signal in favour of renewable energies”, it said, and other developments in the field “provide a further boost for low emissions buildings and, indirectly, for heat pumps”.
Decarbonising heat is one of the biggest challenges to achieving net-zero emissions. Using the UK’s capital city as an example, natural gas, used mainly for heating buildings and water, accounts for 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in London.
To achieve the mayor’s net-zero target by 2030, London will need to make a rapid transition from gas to low-carbon heat solutions, most of which will be retrofitted into existing buildings, as at least 80 per cent of buildings are expected to still be standing in 2050. Heat pump systems have the potential to deliver immediate carbon emission savings of 60-70 per cent compared with conventional electric heating and 55-65 per cent when compared with an efficient gas boiler.
The availability of heat pumps is key to meeting these pledges for many nations.