Image: US Dept. Of Energy

California Heat Pump Partnership Aims For 6 Million In 6 Years

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Everybody knows that heat pumps are going to push fossil energy out of buildings and back underground where it belongs. The question is how far, and how fast. The newly launched California Heat Pump Partnership has the answer and they are not kidding around, with the firepower of a collaborative effort that includes the companies covering more than 90% of the US consumer heat pump market.

One Heat Pump Market To Rule Them All

Past iterations of heat pump technology were not particularly suitable for use in colder climates, but the new and improved versions are much more versatile. Heat pumps have emerged as the heroes of the building decarbonization movement (see more stories about the technology here).

The goal of 6 million heat pumps by 2030 was articulated in a climate action roadmap issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom back in 2022. Despite technology improvements in the heat pump field, that goal has been slipping away. According to one commonly cited figure, only about 800,000 homes in California are currently equipped with one or more heat pumps for a total of about 1.5 million units, and the current pace of installation is just 200,000 units per year.

With 4.5 million to go between now and 2030, the California Heat Pump Partnership has its work cut out for it. Nevertheless, the organization is confident that it can step up the pace.

“Launched with a shared vision to catalyze a sustainable, decarbonized future, the public-private partnership will drive forward a clean energy economy and advance California’s climate objectives by propelling widespread heat pump adoption through cross-sector collaboration and strategic partnerships,” CHPP explained in a press statement.

Part of the plan is to leverage the influential California Energy Commission along with other state agencies. The national Building Decarbonization Coalition is also on board.

With industry members including Rheem, the participation of BDC indicates that the vast California market will influence heat pump sales and technology nationwide, similar to the influence of the California Air Resources Board on automotive emissions.

After all, as recently as April 16th, the office of Governor Newsom affirmed that the California economy is the 5th-largest in the world.

“Scaling heat pump adoption in the world’s fifth largest economy will also act as a global market signal, with the potential of transforming the world’s green economy,” CHPP notes.

Scaling Up The Heat Pump Supply Chain

CHPP is still in the blueprint development stage, but they have already tapped consumer education for a featured role.

“The partnership will also deploy a statewide consumer marketing campaign through The Switch Is On, an initiative launched by the Building Decarbonization Coalition, to educate, inspire, and make switching to electric appliances easier for communities, contractors, and all those who live and work in buildings,” CHPP explains.

The education angle is important. Considering the mixed reputation of older heat pump technology, potential heat pump buyers need to know those days are behind us.

CHPP is also supporting an industry scale-up agreement forged last year, involving 10 of the biggest heat pump stakeholders in the world, to make sure those newly eager buyers can get their hands on a heat pump sooner rather than later. As described by CHPP, the agreement also encompasses measures to ensure that all the new electrical equipment can function without overloading the grid.

This is all well and good, but CleanTechnica is also expecting CHPP to come up with some meaningful financial resources and incentives, too. Homeowners can take advantage of new federal tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades, but the up-front cost of installation can still be a dealbreaker. The rental market can be an especially thorny barrier to energy efficiency upgrades, and the situation is getting worse as private investors move beyond multi-dwelling buildings to accumulate single family homes in their portfolios.

More Geothermal Heat Pumps Are Coming

Leaving the financial issues aside for now, let’s turn attention to some new developments in the geothermal heat pump field.

The Energy Department is certainly a fan. “A new analysis from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that, coupled with building envelope improvements, installing geothermal heat pumps in around 70% of U.S. buildings could save as much as 593 terawatt-hours of electricity generation annually and avoid seven gigatons of carbon-equivalent emissions by 2050,” the agency observed earlier this year.

“Widespread geothermal heat pump installations could also save 24,500 miles of new grid transmission lines from needing to be built,” they added.

One particularly interesting example is taking place in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where a new housing and light industrial development called The Heights has just nailed down a loan of $4.7 million for a new geothermal system.

It’s the first such loan awarded by the Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority, a new “green bank” created by the state legislature last year. If all goes according to plan, the public financing will tide The Heights over until construction is completed and the buildings are hooked up to the new geothermal system. “At that point, the private sector will be willing to step in and fund the system,” explains Peter Klein, the authority’s executive director.

New York State To California: Hold My Beer

The geothermal angle is also hard at work in New York State. In a closely watched development, state lawmakers pulled together a package of new regulations last year aimed at easing restrictions on geothermal systems, a move that is expected to accelerate the industry by cutting costs.

Until the new legislation was passed, geothermal wells deeper than 500 feet were regulated under the same umbrella that applies to oil and gas wells. “This legislation will create new provisions, streamlining regulation of geothermal boreholes while ensuring that all deep well locations throughout the state are adequately reviewed and that potential impacts from the drilling process are mitigated,” explained the office of New York Governor Kathy Hochul in a press statement last September.

“Decoupling clean geothermal energy from regulations that are meant to govern the dirty oil and gas sectors will help pave the way for affordable and efficient heating and cooling solutions and will go a long way toward reducing emissions from the state’s building sector,” added New York League of Conversation Voters President Julie Tighe.

New York lawmakers have also come up with a solution for upgrading rental units. Last year Governor Hochul also announced a new program aimed at purchasing 30,000 window-installed heat pumps for buildings owned by the New York City Housing Authority.

Until lately it seemed that air-sourced heat pumps were more accessible to most households, but the geothermal sector seems to be gaining ground, so stay tuned for more on that.


Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Videos

Advertisement
 
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3348 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey