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Decarbonising the heating and cooling sector

Material supplied by Nathalie Hemeleers, Policy Advisor, European Biomass Association. E-mail:


he Fair RHC Options and Trade (FROnT) project has published a paper with strategic policy

recommendations to support the deployment of renewable heating and cooling technologies (RES-HC). It starts with analysing the main barriers that are currently hamper- ing the deployment of renewable heating and cooling technologies and proposes a set of policy recom- mendations for EU, national and local policy-makers to overcome these barriers.

The heating and cooling sector represents almost 50% of cur- rent energy consumption and is therefore the key to decarbonising the entire energy system. RES-HC such as geothermal, solar thermal, biomass and heat pumps are today

mature and available options to re- place fossil fuels. However, impor- tant barriers remain, and multiple policy instruments are necessary for addressing the impediments that are preventing the uptake of renewable energy technologies. On the consumers’ side, the main barriers to RES-HC deployment are the lack of awareness on available renewable solutions and fi nanc- ing diffi culties in the face of an often higher initial investment cost compared to fossil installations. On the manufacturers’ side, the major barriers encountered are unfair market conditions and the lack of a stable and coherent supportive policy framework.

Therefore, in order to support the deployment of RES-HC solutions, two important things are needed:

a stable and coherent legislative framework; and technology and market specifi c support schemes. Stability over years will ensure investors’ confi dence while coher- ence will guarantee climate and energy objectives are met in a most cost-effective and straightforward manner. Policies aiming at support- ing RES-HC solutions are needed in markets where the negative externalities of fossil fuels are not internalised and the carbon not (or not enough) priced.

EU markets and RES technolo- gies have different maturity levels. Therefore, a one-size-fi ts-all ap- proach would not address the specifi cities of each technology or market and would jeopardise developing the right range of RES technologies needed to decarbon-

ise completely the energy system. In a market still dominated by subsidies to fossil fuels, effective support schemes to RES are needed to increase their competitiveness and accelerate their deployment. The paper also emphasises the importance of the building sec- tor, representing almost 30% of total EU energy consumption, to decarbonise the energy system and gives recommendations to foster a switch to RES heating appliances in existing and new buildings. It also stresses the importance of ar- chitects and installers in increasing awareness among fi nal consumers. In addition, the paper highlights the necessity to develop long-term decarbonisation roadmaps, with clear and coherent national plans and milestones for 2030 and 2050.


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