A global economy that does not emit more greenhouse gases by 2050 than it is able to absorb is a net zero target of the Paris Agreement from 2015. The real estate sector has been playing a central role in this. If indirect emissions from electricity and district heating are taken into account, heating properties is responsible for four gigatonnes of CO2 per year. That’s ten percent of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The real estate sector must therefore fundamentally change. And change is already underway, for example with regard to the installation of heat pumps. They are some of the key technologies for decarbonising the sector. Compared with gas and petroleum heating systems, they are almost CO2 free – provided that the electricity for operating the heat pumps comes from renewable energy sources. Heat pumps can also reduce energy costs over the long-term.
Plenty of room still for improvement
The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s latest assessment shows a global sales increase of 11 percent for heat pumps (air-to-water and air-to-air heat pumps) in 2022. And in the previous year, unit sales of heat pumps were in the double-digits at 13 percent.
Despite strong growth rates, there is still huge untapped potential globally. More than 60 percent of buildings still use fossil fuels for heating (43 percent gas, 15 percent crude oil and 6 percent coal). District heating and renewables play a significantly smaller role, at around 11 percent each.