Are heat pumps the silver bullet to solve Europe’s energy crisis?
The energy crisis demands urgent action to decarbonise every aspect of modern life.
Disruptions to energy prices and trade flows have sent ripple effects throughout our industry. The environmental impact of Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels is turning disruption into chaos, as our summers become increasingly punctuated by floods and forest fires.
Residential heating is at the heart of the problem and the solution: it is the third-largest emitting sector in Europe, accounting for 10% of Europe’s CO2 emissions - but electrifying it would dramatically reduce emissions and cut energy costs for consumers.
A tried and tested solution
Heat pumps are the single most affordable and efficient decarbonisation technology deployable at scale, providing more than four times more energy efficiency than gas boilers. Switching to a heat pump running on electricity instantly reduces a home’s energy need for heating by 75% and therefore cuts CO2 emissions by at least 70%, increasing to 100% with fossil-free electricity generation.
The technology has already proven its effectiveness in northern Europe. Sweden is an illustrating example, where 60% of households already have a heat pump installed and they account for more than 90% of new heating system installations. The fast and widespread adoption of heat pumps in Sweden over the past 30 years has been driven by unsubsidised gas prices and carbon taxation, which has helped customers to make the right choice and transition to non-fossil heating solutions.
Despite the obvious benefits, heat pumps are still inaccessible to many people across Europe. Factors such as artificially low gas bills, limited consumer awareness and high upfront costs are preventing many eligible households from making the switch. What’s more, many people who would be interested in installing a heat pump are discouraged by the slow and disjointed customer journeys that others have experienced at the hands of existing suppliers.
Leading the clean energy-tech revolution
Fortunately, the shoots of change are emerging. Governments across Europe are displaying a growing interest in reducing CO₂ emissions and minimising dependence on foreign gas. This is resulting in nationwide bans on gas boilers, subsidies for households opting for greener alternatives, and a strong appetite for investing in innovative green businesses.
As a Swedish-owned company, Aira is well-positioned to lead this transition. Sweden has a history of innovation and boldness – and these attributes are reflected in our business model. By combining our heat pump heritage and booming tech sector with a global mindset and large-scale production capabilities, we aim to fix the issues that permeate the existing value chain for heat pumps.
We have set an ambitious goal of installing five million air to water heat pumps in the next ten years – and we will achieve this by offering a quick and seamless purchase journey and subscription model that will allow us to deliver savings for our customers from day one. Bolstered by our team of highly experienced heat pump experts, we plan to transform clean energy-tech from a far-off dream into a viable option for households across Europe.
The internet of energy
Just as the early 2000s were characterised by the explosion of the internet, so will the 2020s be remembered as the dawn of the clean energy-era and a turning point for the climate crisis. When the internet emerged, no one could have predicted the impact it would have on our lives – and clean energy-tech will similarly transform our world and the way we use energy beyond the reaches of our imagination.
By 2050, we’ll no longer rely on large fossil fuel-powered energy systems; instead, every household will generate and store a large share of its own energy demand through solar panels, batteries, and heat pumps. Free from the stress of volatile electricity and gas bills, consumers will pay a larger fixed monthly cost for their clean energy-tech ecosystem but a substantially lower unpredictable and variable cost for the energy itself.
At Aira, we know that this energy transition through the accelerated electrification of residential heating is possible at scale, because we’ve already seen it happen in Sweden. But I also know that we cannot achieve it alone, because more than 130 million gas boilers are yet to be replaced across Europe. There is no silver bullet to tackle the energy crisis – but by working together to make clean energy-tech accessible and affordable to more households, we will accelerate progress towards a sustainable future for everyone.
The best thing is that the technology we need is readily available. It saves consumers money, requires no lifestyle changes and provides better comfort – as well as being the biggest and most impactful change they can make to reduce their CO2 footprint.
Change. It’s in the air.
To find out more about heat pumps, read our guide to heat pumps.
From Martin Lewerth, Aira CEO
Why is a heat pump more efficient than a boiler?
Heat pumps are four times more efficient than a gas boiler. For every 1kW energy put in, you get around 4kW out, compared to a boiler where you only get 0.9 kW out.
Heat pumps also represent better value for money, because they are much easier to maintain and last longer. They can last over 18 years – that's 25% longer than gas boilers (based on average lifetime of a boiler of 10-15 years).