Heat pump sales collapse in Germany, threatening their transition to clean heating

German heating industry association warns consumers are losing confidence in heat pumps.

Heating system sales in Germany fell by close to a third in the first three months of the year compared to the same quarter of 2023, with heat pump sales recording a sharp drop, according to figures published by heating industry association BDH.

While sales of oil heating systems increased by 27 percent to 27,500 units, heat pump sales fell by 52 percent to 46,000 units.

"The success of the heating transition is at stake," the BDH warned. General heating system sales fell by 29 percent to 217,500 units compared to the first quarter of 2023.

Consumer uncertainty is likely to be the cause of the slump in sales, according to the BDH. "Above all, the lengthy and public political debate about the legal framework and subsidies for heating buildings has caused people to lose confidence," BDH head Markus Staudt said.

The German government aims to install 500,000 new heat pumps per year from 2024 in a bid to decarbonise the country's heating sector, which largely still relies on fossil fuels.

However, the BDH estimates that fewer than 200,000 heat pumps will be sold this year. Overall, gas boilers made up 64 percent of all systems sold at the start of the year, heat pumps 21 percent, oil systems 13 percent and biomass two percent.

Sales of new heating systems reached record levels in Germany in 2023, with more than 1.3 million units sold.

After months of heated discussions, Germany's government agreed upon concrete steps to reduce emissions from heating buildings, which is directly responsible for around 15 percent of the country’s entire CO2 output.

But agreeing on the details of phasing out fossil fuel-powered boilers proved to be an extremely difficult and protracted process. In the end, subsidies were topped up and the broad ban on new fossil fuel heating systems was postponed by several years from the originally planned 2024 date.

This article was first published by Clean Energy Wire. You can read it here.

Carolina Kyllmann
May 20, 2024
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