Removing fossil fuels from heating is a goal of policy makers around the world in order to decarbonise energy systems and to remove exposure to fossil fuel imports. Alongside efficiency measures, the key technology to replace fossil fuels for heating is heat pumps. In the EU, where fossil fuels — mostly gas — dominate the heating mix, rapid action on heat is needed and the share of heat from heat pumps is expected to grow at lightning speed. Heat networks, which simultaneously need to grow rapidly, are also expected to see much of the heat they transport produced from heat pumps.

This report — a collaborative effort between RAP, Agora Energiewende, CLASP, and the Global Buildings Performance Network — makes the case that the Fit for 55 package can drive a robust heat pump market in the EU, and that reform of the proposals is needed.

With decades of support given to fossil fuel heating technologies, the rapid deployment of heat pumps will need support. The report identifies the current barriers to making that happen, as well as the six areas where the Fit for 55 package can go further in supporting heat pumps at the scale needed:

  • Development of ETS 2 in the ETS directive, which would include buildings as well as transport sectors.
  • Revisions to Energy Taxation Directive to ensure electricity is always taxed lower than other fuels, which will have tax levels linked to environmental damage.
  • Recast Energy Efficiency Directive in which proposals are set to disallow energy savings from boiler installations, as well as introduce a standard for ‘efficient heating and cooling’ networks.
  • Revised Renewable Energy Directive, which includes higher targets for renewable heat use in buildings.
  • Revisions to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which include the need for Member States to set out policies for fossil fuel heating phaseouts by 2040 and the need for new, zero emission buildings by 2030. Revisions also include uplifts to minimum energy efficiency standards.
  • Modifications to energy labelling and ecodesign regulations for heating appliances are being reviewed and rescaled in parallel to the package.

The report also details how Member State-level policy reforms can move ahead of the Fit for 55 changes in the shorter term. These policies need to be supported by clear government heat pump strategies and joined-up heat and buildings governance. Immediate action is needed to reform heat pump policy across the EU. The Fit for 55 package provides a window of opportunity for policy change that must not be missed.

Read our two-page summary here.