How heat pump manufacturers are dealing with the boom

How heat pump manufacturers are dealing with the boom

fIn the past, says Kai Schiefelbein, they primarily proselytized at the ISH trade fair in Frankfurt. Since they still had the principle of heat pump explain, says the managing director of Stiebel Eltron from Holzminden. That changed a long time ago: today the signs at their stand point to selling instead of proselytizing. Last year, the family business produced a total of 80,000 heat pumps with a turnover of 1 billion euros. This year there should be more than 100,000 devices.

Almost all heating manufacturers at the world’s leading trade fair for water, heat and air rely on heat pumps for growth and invest in expanding production. Because this is a path to climate neutrality for heating in houses. With electrical energy and heat from the air, earth or groundwater, the heat pump heats water, which in turn increases the temperature of the apartment in the radiator. So far, the building sector is missing the political targets with its greenhouse gas emissions, which are expected to be almost halved by 2030.

And then the industry is also in the middle of a political dispute about the future of heating. The federal government had actually agreed to only allow the installation of heating systems after the turn of the year that are operated with at least 65 percent renewable energies. The Ministry of Economics is working on the implementation Robert Habeck (Greens) and the building ministry of Klara Geywitz (SPD) with transition periods and exceptions, but the FDP is positioned against the agreement from last year.

so much attention

In Hall 12 of the Frankfurt fair ISH, which stands for International Sanitary and Heating Fair, visitors crowded around to see small and large heat pumps. Between artificial trees and water installations, heating installers take a close look at what they are now supposed to block more often. There is a lot going on in the small country of heat pumps at the trade fair – and business is also going well outside. Buying interest has grown with rising energy prices and has intensified in the wake of the Russian attack on Ukraine. In any case, the manufacturers consider the heat pump to be superior to the alternatives, because the device brings three or four units of heat into houses with one unit of energy. Some also expect fossil fuel prices to rise as a result of higher CO2 costs.

Heat pump country: New and old can be found in the exhibition halls.

Heat pump country: New and old can be found in the exhibition halls.

Image: Lucas Bäuml

Kai Schiefelbein from Stiebel Eltron explains that room heating is low-temperature heating for temperatures around 20 degrees and thus just below the ambient temperature. “Producing heat by burning a high-quality fuel at 1000 degrees is simply inefficient,” he says when asked about the openness to technology. For decades he has considered this to be the wrong approach. “If I heat with green hydrogen via combustion processes, I need about five to eight times as much renewable electricity compared to the heat pump, depending on how good the heat pump is.” This would mean that the energy costs for the consumer would be very high if the state which should not significantly subsidize.

“We are for technology openness, but we are also for realism”

The heating industry has rarely received so much attention: A few days before the start of the trade fair, Habeck announced an extensive support program for climate-friendly heating systems. With 236,000 heat pumps, the industry sold much more than before and 53 percent more than in the previous year. According to the will of the minister, this should continue. The goal: 500,000 newly installed heat pumps. If the growth stays that way, it will also work from 2024.

The Vaillant Group, which counts itself among the market leaders for heat pumps in Europe and continues to sell gas heating systems, is preparing for this. For Norbert Schiedeck, CEO, it has been foreseeable for several years that the use of fossil energy will be increasingly restricted by European regulation. “We are in favor of being open to technology, but we are also in favor of realism,” he says of the path taken to the heat pump. There is currently no indication that hydrogen will be available for heating houses in the next eight or ten years.

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