Global sales of heat pumps grew by 11% in 2022, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). But Europe saw the highest increase, almost doubling its growth compared to the previous year, from 22% to 41%.
The report indicates that rising sales were the result of high natural gas prices and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the European Union set a goal of installing 50 million heat pumps by 2030, the maximum that its current electrical grid can handle. Nearly 3 million heat pumps were sold in Europe in 2022, bringing the total to about 20 million.
The US Inflation Reduction Act, REPowerEU, and Green Transformation (GX) in Japan have boosted the uptake of heat pumps globally and sent strong market signals to manufacturers and installers, according to another IEA report (pdf).
But the future of heat pumps may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, and retrofitting existing buildings can be costly. To get to a global net-zero scenario by 2050, the recent report calls for expanding deployment with bigger reductions in heat pump costs to end users through innovation and subsidies, higher carbon penalties, and a ban on new fossil fuel boiler sales by 2025.
Higher demand for heating and cooling
The IEA estimates that by 2050, 2.6 billion people worldwide will live in areas with substantial cooling and heating needs.
At current growth rates, under a global net-zero scenario, at least 24% of heating needs would be met by heat pumps in 2030. Heat pumps could double their share of heating worldwide to 52% of buildings by 2050. Also, because heat pumps can be combined with air conditioning, they could eliminate the need to install separate air conditioners.
In the US last year, heat pump purchases (pdf) exceeded those of gas furnaces. Air-to-water models compatible with radiators and underfloor heating systems were the most popular. In Europe, those types of heat pump installations jumped by almost 50% in 2022. Installations of heat pumps are concentrated in new buildings and existing single-family homes.