July 5, 2022

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Hybrid heat pump is the future heating boiler

Hybrid heat pump is the future heating boiler

Last month Cabinet announced It indicates that from 2026, the hybrid heat pump will become the new standard. This announcement immediately caused an uproar. Susan Van Soelcomb Comment on this site With a number of important questions about the proposal. As a Member of Parliament, I also received several emails. In this article I answer in more detail the various questions that are asked.

A hybrid heat pump is the best of both worlds: a combination of a gas boiler and a small heat pump. A heat pump can efficiently heat a home for much of the year, using heat from the outside air. If it is too cold and the heat pump becomes less efficient, the gas boiler starts up. The advantage is obvious: the house always remains warm enough and gas consumption is significantly reduced. Although the electricity consumption is also increased, there are significant energy savings and in most cases this also means a lower energy bill.

The hybrid heat pump gradually makes it possible to make the house more sustainable. You don’t have to do everything at once: you can make your home more sustainable in steps and it doesn’t have to be done with the whole neighborhood at once. A hybrid heat pump may be part of the final climate-neutral solution in 2050, provided sufficient sustainable gases are available. Gas-free is not the end goal, but natural gas-free is the goal. This makes the hybrid heat pump a futuristic boiler.

But why monotheism?

Standardization or defining a standard means that the government sets requirements for products and equipment. This is already happening in many areas: automobile safety, harmful substances in toys, flammability of materials, and energy efficiency of devices. Standardization of thermal installations means that more stringent energy performance requirements are imposed on heating boilers.

The government currently subsidizes the hybrid heat pump, but the subsidy tool has its limitations. Grants must be given for a limited time. Standard setting is often a more effective policy tool. Provides clarity and volume. Clarity ensures that manufacturers start making products that meet these standards. Scale ensures an adequate market is created, which means that the cost price can also be lowered and the quality increased. Combined with the subsidies that will be phased out over the years, this will ensure a rapid growth in the number of hybrid heat pumps.

Is standardization the same as coercion or obligation? In a way, yes. But in the same way the freedom of choice with respect to other products is limited. It will not be possible to sell a normal gasoline car in the long run. And when you build a new home, it must also meet all kinds of energy performance standards. Therefore, the standards can be defended, but on the condition that there is already sufficient perspective to work for families. In concrete terms: there should be affordable hybrid heat pumps, the government should provide financial assistance with subsidies if necessary, and exceptions should be possible if the hybrid heat pump is not technically feasible.

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Hybrid heat pump performance

In her opinion piece, Van Suylekom stated that there are still no good numbers available on the actual savings of a hybrid heat pump. She rightly says that the extent to which a hybrid heat pump provides natural gas depends on the degree of insulation of the house as well as the quality of ventilation and the heat emission system. BDH’s report “Installation Screen: Practical Presentations for Heat Pumps”, published a few weeks ago, analyzed the practical performance of hybrid heat pumps. Gastera, Consumers Association and Vereniging Eigen Huis also conducted a test.

Yes, it can always be more accurate: divided by type of dwelling, heating behavior of the resident, degree of insulation, etc. At the same time, the good should not become the enemy of the better: more and more models of hybrid heat pumps will be launched on the market, precisely because of standardization, which all behave slightly differently. It is therefore particularly important to have efficiency requirements: the hybrid heat pump must achieve a clearly defined minimum efficiency.

Why is the moment of substitution reached, van Soelkom wonders? It is true that the hybrid heat pump can be added to the existing boiler as a separate system or it can be installed as one integrated device when replacing the boiler (more information: here). Of course everyone is free to add the hybrid heat pump at a different time. But, of course, it does not make sense to do this, especially if the installer has already begun to install and a new built-in hybrid central heating boiler can replace the gas boiler to be replaced.

Not unexpected

Fortunately, there is no “obsession” with the hybrid heat pump, Van Soelkom writes. The hybrid heat pump is one way we can make the built environment more sustainable. It is an important route, because full electricity is by no means always possible or reasonable, and connecting homes to heating networks requires a significant effort at the neighborhood level.

Advertising doesn’t come out of nowhere either. Various analyzes have been published in recent years (including by Berenschot, Ecorys and TNO) showing that the hybrid heat pump pathway is a plausible route. This is why the CDA, among other things, has given the hybrid heat pump a place in its platform (beginning of 2021) and also in its climate vision (September 2021). The Van der Lee/Bontenbal movement was also adopted in July 2021, asking the government to “prepare a standard stimulating the deployment of hybrid heat pumps”. The motion passed by a large majority, including a number of parties that responded critically to Minister De Jonge’s announcement.

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This measure was already announced in the alliance agreement. So the minister simply implements the coalition agreement. This measure has already been discussed in the Climate Agreement before, when energy companies (including heating companies), NGOs, boiler manufacturers, installers and network operators argued in a statement to introduce efficiency requirements for heating installations.

Fortunately, the Cabinet is not opposed to the “hybrid path” of an area-oriented approach or the realization of heat networks. On the contrary, because the same alliance agreement states: “At the neighborhood level, where cost-effectively feasible, we will focus on achieving sustainable thermal networks. The unprofitable upper part of the collective heating projects will be partly funded from a subsidy scheme patriotic, so that it remains within the reach of families.” We will also need thermal networks to make neighborhoods more sustainable.

Other options remain possible, provided they are more sustainable

Nor will standardization mean that solutions other than a hybrid heat pump are no longer possible. Yes, a full electric heat pump is an option too. It would be great if there was a fast, affordable and large-volume working, well-proven heat pump on the market that could replace a gas boiler on a one-to-one basis. Come on!

The Minister’s announcement states that there will be exceptions to the obligation to install (at least) a hybrid heat pump, for example if the area-oriented approach by the municipality already has another plan ready to make the area gas-free, for example with the enforcement of the heat law. This prevents the lock and homeowners from buying a hybrid heat pump for only a few years.

Van Suylekom suggests that a hybrid heat pump is not a future-proof option. I tend to disagree. In many cases it is specifically a no regret-Selection. Heat networks will be a solution in certain areas of cities, but rapid expansion will also be a major challenge there. In the meantime, what are we going to do with all the homes that haven’t been made gas-free via the area-oriented approach with connected to the heating network? Additionally, it seems to overlook the fact that a hybrid heat pump could also be part of the ultimate solution, provided sufficient green gas and/or hydrogen is available by 2050.

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At the end of her article, Van Soelkom asks a number of good questions to include in a phrasing. But these questions are not an obstacle. At least some of the answers.

• When asked what we will do after 2040: It was not immediately said that the stock of 2.5 million homes with a hybrid heat pump should continue to take the step towards fully electrified, because other end solutions are also possible (including end solutions with sustainable gases). And it doesn’t have to be all at once in 2040.

• On the question of whether a future heat pump will replace the current hybrid as a standard: The great thing about standardizing heat installations is that you can modify this standard as technology advances. Reports from the past few weeks show that boiler manufacturers are already working on new products, such as a hybrid heat pump where the outdoor unit is no longer needed, but is integrated into the flue gas outlet. Or a gas absorption heat pump, which also allows individual replacement.

• When asked about what will be done in high-rise buildings: The Minister’s letter already stated that the obligation does not apply in places where the hybrid heat pump cannot be installed. High-rise buildings are often suitable for thermal solutions other than hybrid heat pumps.

• When asked what to do with people who can’t afford the investment: Low-income families often live in rented accommodation. In this case, the homeowner, the owner/housing association, must make the investment. The resident benefits immediately. Owner-occupied homes are used to investing in the home: replacing fixtures and maintaining the home. Part of the additional investment will be repaid through the subsidy. An interest-free loan will also be available to make the investment.

finally

A majority of House members consider achieving climate goals important. In addition, this majority also wants to quickly stop the extraction of gas in Groningen and gradually stop importing natural gas from Russia. It also means that you as a government have to take credible measures that give concrete substance to this matter. We should have a good discussion with the Minister about dimensions and growth trajectory, but standardization of the hybrid heat pump is a well and reasonable defensible measure.