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EU reaches compromise on air source heat pumps

Industry has welcomed the EU’s decision to categorise air source heat pumps (ASHPs) as a renewable energy source technology.

But it is concerned that the compromise amendment does not take into account a number of issues, including the progressive decarbonisation of the grid.

Earlier this month the EU Committee on Industry, Research and Energy met in Brussels to debate the merits of more than a thousand amendments to the Renewable Energy Sources Directive.One of the many amendments relating to ASHPs proposed that, since the technology requires the use of significant amounts of energy, “

ASHPs should not be taken into account for the purpose of measuring compliance with the targets established by this directive”.

However, speaking to H&V News ahead of the meeting on September 3, Fiona Hall, the Liberal Democrat MEP and an influential committee member, said the EU, along with industry experts, was working towards developing a solution which addressed the technology’s critics.

Consequently a compromise amendment was reached, which was accepted by the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee on September 11.

Article 5 of the compromise amendments states: “For the calculation of renewable energy produced by heat pumps, only the share taken from the environment shall be counted following the formula: E renew = Q used * (1-1/seasonal performance factor * average power plant efficient in a certain country).

Tony Bowen, president of the Heat Pump Association, explained: “The committee is saying that in order for a technology to be considered renewable it must produce more energy than it consumes, which is perfectly reasonable. However, the proposal to use carbon loaded primary energy as input, thus reducing the portion of energy counting as renewable, will distort the measurement of achieved energy. 

“The committee is also saying that when taking into account the energy efficiency of a heat pump, the inefficiencies of the power station supplying energy to operate that heat pump should also be applied.

“I think that to embed this method of calculation at this stage fails to reflect the progressive decarbonisation of the grid over the next 20 to 50 years, and I feel this area needs re-examination.”

Will Wachtmeister, policy officer with Micropower Europe, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the compromise amendments. In my view the challenge is going to be about getting all the relevant

information together to create a database which can be used to do those calculations based on the formula contained in the compromise amendments document. “In order to use the calculations the working group still needs to determine what the official statistics are and that’s going to be challenging.

I hope this will not hold things up for heat pumps. It’s very important to get it right and to do this quickly.”

The compromise amendments face a European Parliament plenary vote on October 8, before being signed off by EU member states.