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Core Theme 3: Decarbonising Heating and Cooling

| Highlights CT 3
CT3 Session Highlights of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Plenary Meeting

1st Plenary Meeting, 17th-18th November 2021, Online


Session 4: The role of the comprehensive assessment in stimulating renewable heating and cooling

As part of the EED and the RED all member states had to make a comprehensive assessment (CA) for heating and cooling, including renewable heating and cooling and waste heat. The CA includes the current status and the potential. Currently 21 members states (and the UK) have submitted their CA. The JRC will evaluate the CA’s. Next year (around May) the commission expects to give feedback to the members states. In the session Eva Hoos (DG ENER) gave an overview of the objective for the CA and the state of play and the JRC gave the first appraisal of the submitted CA’s. Stane Merse presented the results of the session on the CA from the CA-EED followed by a presentation about the CA from Norway and the results of the questionnaires. In the group work the participants had the chance to exchange their experience with the CA’s.

Some main results:

  • The CA has stimulated countries to improve their data for (renewable) heating and cooling.
  • Data for cooling and waste heat were generally poor and hard to get
  • The CA is useful for developing new policies and measures
  • It would be better to combine the making of the CA with the NECP.
  • The situation differs a lot between countries, therefore the given format was sometimes hard to use.


Session 9: Renewable cooling

The goal of the session was to gain awareness and knowledge of the current state of play on renewable cooling from the regulatory side.

Participants discussed the results of the questionnaire, regarding, among others, the criteria to define renewable cooling, including criteria on energy efficiency and data availability and measures to support renewable cooling.

The results of the study “Renewable Cooling under the Revised Renewable Energy Directive ENER/C1/2018-493” were presented. The study quantified final energy consumption for cooling in EU Member States. Furthermore, it develops projections on final energy consumption for cooling until 2030 as well as 2050. The study investigated the role of RES in cooling, analysed what can be considered as renewable cooling, and suggested definitions of renewable cooling in the context of the RED II. It also assessed the impact of different RES-Cooling definition options on RES and RES H&C shares in 2030 and 2050 and the associated economic impacts.

Participants also discussed the delegated act establishing a methodology for calculating the quantity of renewable cooling and district cooling that can be counted towards EU renewable energy targets under the Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001. The methodology aims at ensuring that renewable energy used in cooling is calculated in the same way by each Member State and monitoring, reporting and verification is possible. The Delegated Act includes active cooling systems (building design, ventilation and comfort fans are excluded). Cooling in transportation, refrigeration and cooling applied to mitigate heat from high temperature energy generation processes are excluded. According to the methodology used in the delegated act, renewable cooling must be defined via the criterion of minimum seasonal performance factors (SPF). Only cooling systems operating above the minimum efficiency requirement expressed as primary Seasonal Performance Factor (SPFp) are considered to produce renewable energy. Participants discussed how to interpret the definitions and their implications for their calculations of renewable cooling shares.


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CA-RES4_PM1_Highlights CT3



2nd Plenary Meeting, 18th-19th May 2022, Online


Session 3: Status of the implementation of the minimum level for renewable energy in major renovation of buildings (RED art. 15.4)

As of the first of July 2021 Member States should have implemented the Renewable Energy Directive II in their national regulations. In article 15, some requirements are set for the building sector. In particular, article 15.4 requires: 

Member States shall, in their building regulations and codes or by other means with equivalent effect, require the use of minimum levels of energy from renewable sources in new buildings and in existing buildings that are subject to major renovation in so far as technically, functionally and economically feasible, and reflecting the results of the cost-optimal calculation carried out pursuant to Article 5(2) of Directive 2010/31/EU, and in so far as this does not negatively affect indoor air quality. Member States shall permit those minimum levels to be fulfilled, inter alia, through efficient district heating and cooling using a significant share of renewable energy and waste heat and cold.”

The goal of the session was to get an overview of the way in which member states have implemented article 15.4 in their building codes, and the main outcomes coming from the discussions of the participants were:

  • Most countries (78% of respondents) have implemented the minimum requirement for the level for renewable energy in new buildings, and most of them for major renovations. The required level varies a lot between Member States.
  • In most Members States a connection to district heating also is seen as fulfilling the requirement, but there is a difference in the demands for the efficiency or number of renewables in district heating.
  • In the Netherlands the minimum level of renewable energy for major renovations is related to the roof area, as most customers use PV-panels to fulfill the requirement.
  • Multi-family buildings were seen as an issue by several countries, because of available space for solar energy and issues on self-consumption and division of energy.


Session 13: Renewable heating and cooling in the industrial sector

Mainstreaming renewable energy in heating and cooling is the topic of the article 23 of the directive. In particular, article 23.4 makes express reference to the use of renewables in the industrial sector, when mentioning possible measures to reach the objectives.

The goal of the session was to acquire knowledge of current state of play on renewable H&C in the industrial sector, and the different options and experiences by Member states on how to decarbonize the industrial sector, both from the regulatory and the incentives perspectives.

Participants from the European Commission started by setting the general framework and showing the opportunities brought by REPowerEU to decarbonize the industrial sector, with reinforced targets of using renewable fuels of non-biological origin.

Participants discussed the results of the questionnaire, regarding, among others, current and foreseen in 2030 shares of RES consumption in the industrial sector, regulatory and financial measures in place and potential barriers that could prevent the deployment of renewable energies in the industrial sector.

Experiences on financial measures in place were presented by Germany and Spain. These measures have been running for a couple of years now, and so far, has been most successful in implementing bioenergy projects, although other technologies (solar, heat pumps) have also been developed.

The European Heat Pump Association also made a presentation on the specific potential for heat pumps to deliver and be used in different industrial sectors.

All the participants considered that it is a good time for industry to replace fossil fuels by renewable energies, and most of the participants indicated that the estimated payback time expected from industrial managers for these kind of investments is 3-5 years. Most participants also thought that energy services companies can play a relevant role (instead of the industrial making the investment directly by himself) and, when asked about what specific measures Member States could take, most of the answers targeted the financial side of the problem (e.g., tax exemptions, financing support, attractive funding schemes).


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3rd Plenary Meerin, 09th-10th November 2022, Athens, Greece


Session 3: Statistics for waste heat

According to the Renewable energy directive (RED), waste heat can be included for the target for renewable H&C of article 23. Up to now, there are no data for waste heat in the energy statistics and there is little information on the actual use of waste heat. To improve it the session focused on the following issues:

  • Current statistics on waste heat.
  • Possibilities to improve these statistics.
  • Implementation of the definition of waste heat.
  • Examples of projects where waste heat is used.

The main outcomes from the questionnaire and the session were:

  • For many countries waste heat is not important in their energy balance.
  • Very few countries have data on the amount of waste heat.
  • If data are available, it is about the supply of waste heat to district heating.
  • The definition is implemented in about half of the member states.
  • The opportunities for using waste heat from datacenters are mentioned by many countries.
  • Waste heat contributes little towards the RES H&C-targets.
  • Big efforts are needed to increase use of waste heat. Projects with waste heat are difficult to develop, because there is no stakeholder that takes the lead.


Session 13: The role of renewable H&C to reduce the need for natural gas in the building sector

The need for greater use of renewable heating and cooling is becoming more urgent with the current energy crises and exploding price of fossil fuels. The RE-power EU proposal aims at increasing the application of renewable energy technologies. In this session, we focused on the possibilities to increase the take up of renewable H&C technologies in the building sector and some examples of policies, including extraordinary measures and contingency plans developed by Member States to tackle the current crisis. Particular attention was given to better understand:

  • Rationale behind choosing natural gas as fuel for heating.
  • Obstacles to install renewable H&C technologies, with a particular focus on heat pumps.
  • Policies/grants to promote the substitution of natural gas by renewable sources of energy.
  • Energy poverty and sectoral integration-related issues.

Main conclusions were that the main incentives for industry and individuals are funding and regulation. Regarding funding, Slovakia works with a voucher system for listed qualified installers. They can get the voucher after installing the measure. Slovakia is willing to present the system on a coming CA-Res session if it fits the topic.

Regarding regulation, there is a trend already seen in different Member states to set more obligations (for example obligation to connect to district heating).

As a crosscutting issue, the worry about the availability of qualified installers and potential issues with the break of the value chain was mentioned by several Member states.


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4th Plenary Meeting, 24th-25th May 2023, Vienna


Session 3: Heat pumps in existing buildings

The importance of heat pumps is highlighted in RePowerEU, where a goal is state to double deployment rates of building heat pumps, leading to additional 10 million hydronic heat pumps over the next 5 years and 30 million by 2030. In the session we investigated policies and contributions of member states in regard of this goal.

The session focused on the main policies and barriers experienced by member states and the heat pump sector.

The main outcomes from the questionnaire and the session were:

  • A heat pump action plan to accelerate roll-out across the EU is worked on by the commission. A consultation is opened until August 30th, and stakeholder events are organised. The action plan focusses a.o. on creating a platform/Accelerator/partnership, communication on available heat pump solutions, a dedicated ‘heat pump skills partnership’, ongoing legislative work and more accesible financing.
  • There is a significant growth in heat pumps, 38% in 2022, called a tipping point by the sector. The drivers for growth are the development of the energy prices and member state policies (e.g. grants). However, there is still a lot of growth potential in most member states.
  • The main barriers experienced by member states are costs (also for house adaptations) and availability of skilled installers.
  • The main policies that are in place are financial (grants). Some Member States have an explicit goal for the number of heat pumps in 2030, and some work on legislation to ban fossil heating devices, making heat pumps more attractive.
  • Two examples from Sweden and Portugal highlighted the large differences in application based on climate situation, and how the historical development of the heating sector plays a role.

In September a joint CA will be organized on skills, also a session on skills for heat pumps will be organized, giving the opportunity to focus on this subject further.


Session 15: Updates of the national climate and energy plans (NECPs)

According to the article 14.1 of the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union (Regulation (EU) 2018/1999), by 30 June 2023, and subsequently by 1 January 2033 and every 10 years thereafter, each Member State shall submit to the Commission a draft update of the latest notified integrated national energy and climate plan. The final update of the NECP is due by June 30th 2024 and should include such targets that allow to reach the Fit for 55 targets. Considering that the deadline for sending the draft update to the European Commission was getting closer, the fourth plenary meeting was seen as a good opportunity to exchange views on the subject of renewable heating and cooling in the draft plans, in view of the global energy scenario. 

The session was developed following these three main points:

  • The process of updating NECPs:  interlinkages with other planning exercises, need for matching investment needs with policies and measures, guidance to Member States from the Commission, etc.
  • Implications of RED3: new targets, mapping RES-H&C (art 23), framework for coordination in DHC (art 24), accompanying docs are at a very early stage.
  • A vision from Comprehensive Assessments (RED2 + EED): 2nd exercise is ongoing, there is a lack of data (cooling is the weakest part) and of harmonization in the presentation of information (after finalizing the 2nd exercise, JRC will put forward a draft template).

The level of responses to the questionnaire for this session was low and it is very likely that the reason for that was the fact that Member States were concerned about the reliability of the data they could share in a moment when the deadline for submitting the draft document was getting closer. In view of this situation, and as a final conclusion to the session, participants agreed that it would be worth returning to the topic of renewable heating and cooling in NECPs in spring 2024, when the final version of the updated plans is approaching its deadline.


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5th Plenary Meeting, 18th-19th October 2023, Lisbon


Session 3: Solar thermal: Why is it still in the shadow? Examples and best practices

The session went over the situation of solar thermal against the backdrop of the ambitious goals for heating and cooling in 2030. So, it included an overview of technologies, possibilities, case studies and national peculiarities, all of them related to the use of solar thermal in heating and cooling.

Firstly, the scene was set with the help of DG ENER, which described a situation where this technology is still concentrated in its deployment in rooftops and household uses, whilst industrial applications don’t live up to their potential yet. Furthermore, the issue of providing system services in combination with thermal energy storage was stressed, together with the important presence of solar thermal in the new pieces of legislation recently passed or under discussion (RED3, EPBD, Electricity Market Design, NZIA, etc.).

Following the description of the situation, the review of the questionnaires provided some insights into the existing issues of data availability and a lot of information on barriers and support schemes.

The second block of the session included the vision of the industry and the experience of two Member States. The former focused mainly on technical issues (e.g., what is and what is not solar in thermal applications, or new and innovative solutions that are now a reality, like applications in industry or the use of hybrid solutions of PVT), and very interesting case studies from all over Europe. The latter showed two different approaches to this technology: from the South, on dealing with barriers to the deployment of the technology even when the resource is abundant, and from Central Europe, on the practicalities of designing a support program from scratch.


Session 6: Implementation issues on art 23/24 of revised REDII

In this session the changes in art. 23/24 of the revised REDII were discussed, with a focus on accounting and monitoring.

The most important changes in art. 23 are the introduction of a binding target for the increase in share of renewables in the heating and cooling sector. Furthermore, specific provisions are introduced to account for renewable electricity and waste heat in achieving this target.

The review of the questionnaires showed that most of member states did not yet decide whether they would account for waste heat or renewable electricity in the target for renewables in heating and cooling. Also, the questionnaire was used to ask which questions were raised by the changes in the revised RED II. The accounting of renewable electricity was a topic often mentioned.

DG ENER presented the most important changes and discussed the questions raised in the questionnaire, after which some additional topics were discussed. The main topics raised were the method for determining the share of renewables in the reference year (2020), the availability and the use of data, dealing with the exemptions from a situation with over 60% renewables in heating and cooling, and heat-source specific issues (e.g., on waste incineration). In the discussion on data also Eurostat gave valuable input on the current methods for accounting renewables in heating and cooling.

The general conclusion was that the changes increase complexity. The session provided input on topics where further guidance could be helpful.


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