Blog | Published on 16th May 2016

European Heating Industry

As I write this article the UK is preparing to vote in the EU referendum, the outcome of which will be old news by the time you read this. Whatever the outcome, EU regulations will continue to shape our future. Keeping up to date with imminent and future regulations will help you plan ahead and keep your customers informed.

The Heating and Hotwater Industry, HHIC, do this by our involvement with the Association of the European Heating Industry, EHI, where we are heavily involved, helping us to shape the future of the heating and hot water industry.

The Association represents and promotes the common interests of 39 market leading companies and 13 associations in the European thermal comfort sector, which produce advanced technologies for heating in buildings, including: space heaters (boilers, electric and fuel driven heat pumps, micro-cogeneration), heating controls and components, heat storage and heat emitters (radiators, surface heating and cooling systems), renewable energy systems (solar thermal, geothermal, biomass). The industry has total sales of more than 20 billion euro and employs 120.000 people.

EHI deals with the needs of the heating market from the point of view of industry. Its scope includes: the European regulatory framework, its implementation, and global aspects relating to the industry.

Current focus of the EHI

Heating and cooling today account for half of the EU energy consumption, but a large part of this energy is wasted because 65% of the installed heaters in Europe are old and inefficient. In the UK we estimate there to be approximately 12 million inefficient boilers in UK homes.

The European heating industry is recognised as the sector with the biggest energy-saving potential in Europe. In order to address this, the EHI is focusing its attention on the EU Strategy for Heating and Cooling, which was published in February 2016, by the European Commission. The strategy is recognised as a first step in exploring the issues and challenges in this sector, and solving them with EU energy policies.

HHIC and our associates at EHI believe that the heating and cooling strategy should promote a multi-technology approach. We cannot ignore the differences in type, age and use of buildings, heat demand, physical feasibility, climate conditions, available energy supplies and - not least - consumer preferences among different European regions and Member States. A Heating Strategy that recognises the role of all energy sources and efficient or renewable heating solutions is an important step towards reaching the European energy and climate goals.

Let’s look back to 2010 and the ‘all electric’ heating scenario presented by Professor David Mackay, chief scientific advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Professor Mackay recommended replacing the status quo of 80 per cent of homes heated by gas.

There has been widespread acknowledgement that this “all-electric” scenario is fundamentally flawed if households are to keep warm in winter and choose when to use gas for heating and cooking. The cost of electrification to meet these peaks – let alone cater for population growth, electric vehicles, and increased use of technology – means that gas has an important role to play in the future.

UK industry is already working on ‘green gas’ solutions, including BioSNG, but they need Government  buy-in to encourage investment and the wider debate about planning for our future energy needs, in a decarbonised world, and using the UK’s hidden asset – its gas grid.

We believe that a mix of fuel and technology choices is key to reducing emissions and keeping costs low. HHIC and our colleagues at EHI will be working to ensure this is recognised in the EU Strategy for Heating and Cooling.

Involvement with the EHI is important, why? Well firstly it strengthens our sector’s contribution to future regulation, ensuring the needs of the UK are fully understood and reflected in the work of the association. It also offers a well-established platform for promoting UK heating solutions and policy.

The UK heating industry already delivers energy efficient products, and innovative policy. This was demonstrated when we regulated a move to condensing boilers via changes to Building Regulations for England and Wales in 2005.

Strikingly; in 2015; only 63 per cent of boiler sales in mainland Europe were for gas condensing boilers, compared with an incredible 96 per cent in the UK. The UK accounted for 46 per cent of the total annual European gas condensing boiler sales.

This is a significant achievement, and one which offers some invaluable lessons for the UK and other member states. Our seat at the EHI table allows us to share such successes. It also allows us to understand, shape and communicate EU policy directions and implications, as well as network with industry peers and EU decisions makers.

Involvement at an EU level proved invaluable following the Energy Labelling Directive 2010/30/EU (the framework designed to communicate complex information in a clear and understandable format regarding the energy consumption and performance of specified domestic appliances). HHIC were able to receive detailed analysis on the implications of the directive, and therefore communicate them with the supply chain, in preparation for ErP in September last year.

EHI wields considerable influence in most heating related matters. If you’re in heating you’re in EHI.

So how do you, the installer fit in?

HHIC is the industry voice at a European level, for the UK domestic heating supply chain. Our challenge is to represent the views of the UK industry and achieve policy outcomes that are achievable in the UK market.

You, the installer are the industry voice to consumers. Your challenge is to increase consumer awareness about the efficiency of their heating system, in order for them to benefit from the innovation which industry brings to the market.

The transformation of the European heating market towards low energy demand and higher renewable energy integration can only be achieved if the entire supply chain rises to its challenge.