Embracing a renewable heating revolution in our buildings!

published 24.02.2023

CAN Europe has introduced a new report on heating from renewable sources, in which it states that the EU's and member states' ineffective policies are unable to keep up with households and businesses' demand for reducing energy consumption and do not support emission or heating cost reduction. Despite the urgent need to shift away from fossil fuels and increase energy savings, there are still many economic and non-economic barriers on both the demand and supply side.

Decarbonization of the building heating sector is essential for climate goals achievement

The heating sector has recently been receiving attention from experts and politicians in relation to decarbonization and climate goals. In March 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the International Energy Agency (IEA) mentioned the "accelerated deployment of heat pumps" as part of its ten-point plan to reduce dependence on Russian gas. In May of the same year, the European Commission proposed in its REPowerEU plan to double the rate of heat pump installations in Europe by 2030. The plan also recommends, through the EU Save Energy communication, setting 2029 as the end date for the sale of fossil fuel boilers and 2025 as the end date for subsidies for the installation of these technologies. Instead, it recommends redirecting these subsidies to heat pumps.
At the national level, some European countries set their own targets for decarbonizing heating. However, in practice, progress is slow and hindered by several barriers. Economic and non-economic barriers exist on the demand side (users), the supply side (manufacturers, installers), and also in legislation. This makes the transition to heating from renewable sources (e.g., heat pumps, solar thermal energy, and district heating networks using renewable energy sources) complicated even for the most motivated citizens, and the overall development is too slow. If nothing is done about this, the European Union risks not meeting its energy and climate goals and remaining dependent on unreliable and expensive fossil fuels for many years to come.

District heating as a specific feature of Central and Eastern European countries

The CAN Europe report also addresses district heating, which is particularly important in Central and Eastern European countries for maximizing energy efficiency potential and accelerating the decarbonization of heating systems.
For example, in the Czech Republic, there are hundreds of district heating systems of various sizes, and like the rest of Europe, most of them still rely on fossil fuels. This is partly because district heating requires more planning, investment in infrastructure, and coordination than individual solutions like heat pumps and solar panels.
To make the most of the opportunities provided by the increased public interest in renewable energy sources, the EU and individual member states need much stronger commitments to install renewable heating (and cooling) systems and to pursue energy savings and increase building efficiency. A summary of the most important recommendations can also be found in the factsheet here.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking on "DOWNLOAD REPORT IN PDF" above or on the CAN Europe website here. A summary of the most important recommendations can also be found in the factsheet here.

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