Diverting Half of Fossil Boiler Subsidies to Heat Pumps Can Decarbonize Heating by 2040

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A new report, Green Heat for All, released today, hits the high note on heat pumps like a song on repeat. Heat pumps, as many others have pointed out, use only a small amount of the energy that older technologies did. By redirecting 50% of Member States’ fossil boiler subsidies to heat pumps, European heating could be decarbonized by 2040 with no performance loss and as little as half the annual cost.

Transitioning Europe to 100% renewable heat by 2040 is simple and feasible. According to the Coolproducts report released by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). Half of the annual €3.2 billion in fossil heating subsidies paid to heat pumps by Member States will literally pave the way for Europe to heat homes without further heating the planet.

Fairer & Cleaner Energy Landscape

The study also reveals that a practical additional investment of €21 billion over the next decade and a half will ensure a fairer and cleaner energy landscape for all, with a 7-year payback for all citizens installing heat pumps. Additionally, full upfront cost coverage could be available for low-income families. (Researchers estimated this to be 30% of households in Europe with fossil fuel boilers.) Carbon taxation allows the investment to be reduced to €14 billion.

“The study also analyzes the first 12 draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) presented by Member States and finds that ambition in decarbonizing heating and cooling is lacking in most of them.”

Other significant findings include:

  • It is cheaper to use a heat pump than running a gas or oil boiler in all Member States, except for Belgium where solar power is needed to breakeven.
  • With current subsidies, 16 Member States already have access to affordable heat pumps that payback within 7 years from the first investment, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Nordics.
  • Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands are the least ambitious in setting targets for renewable energy share in heating and cooling, all aiming for below 10%.
  • Italy and Poland still generously subsidize fossil heating and the installation of new boilers. Belgium and Poland continue to support coal heating technology in some forms.

Davide Sabbadin, Deputy Policy Manager for Climate at the EEB, said:

“A future with fossil heating has left and will leave many out in the cold. The EU and its Member States must put an end to the old fossil technologies and shift funds towards alternatives like heat pumps, solar energy, and district heating, offering a more affordable and sustainable reality for vulnerable households.”

Takeaway: The Right to Energy

The report paints an engaging narrative of the opportunity for an energy-efficient and cost-effective approach to alleviating energy poverty, which affects one in every four EU households and is exacerbated by out-of-date, costly fossil fuel heating systems.

Graph from the new report, Green Heat for All


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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor.

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