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Last edited 18 Feb 2021
COVID-19 and the global heat pump market
BSRIA released its annual Heat Pump Study in March 2020, just when the first measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus were taken in Asia. At the time of the publication, the extent of the pandemic was far from clear; even less so was the impact it would have on the market in the short and medium terms. In order to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the heat pump sector, BSRIA Worldwide Market Intelligence carried out the research in Europe, China and the U.S.
Sales of heat pumps started declining in March 2020 as the lockdown was first implemented by the government in China. A substantial part of Chinese workers left their work and were then unable to return due to the quarantine.
As a result, several manufacturing companies could not resume work, new construction projects were at a standstill and installers were restricted to access sites. While restrictions and the quarantine extended to neighbouring countries, delays in the supply of air conditioners and heat pumps piled up during March-April 2020.
Looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the European heat pump industry, suppliers reported similar issues faced by the local building sector: most construction projects that had already started continued at a slower pace; however, some others were cancelled. Production lines at some HVAC manufacturers had to be put on hold for several weeks, and installers saw their new installation projects limited by sanitary guidelines.
Meanwhile, the measures put in place to pull the market towards more energy efficient buildings and products proved to be successful. A meaningful number of private households and project owners embraced their new ways of living to undertake renovation works.
In addition, installers took advantage of opportunities to upskill and promote the benefits of heat pumps. This, along with the financial support allocated to replace old heating systems helped reverse the dip in sales in the new-build sector. Overall, sales of heat pumps in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK remained on an upward trend.
 Overall projections
Feedback from European suppliers indicate that the market started to recover over the third quarter with sales to existing homes offsetting the drop in new projects. Provisional forecast until the end of 2020 point towards a positive result in the main European markets. The package of financial incentives voted under the EU Recovery Fund are foreseen to keep the demand growing, particularly in the replacement sector.
During a second COVID-19 wave across Europe and elsewhere, the uncertainty surrounding the duration and severity of this crisis make it hard to anticipate how a recovery could unfold for the new construction industry in the medium term. The number of new building permits declined during the second half of 2020, which will undoubtedly have negative effects through 2021 and beyond. Nevertheless, BSRIA remains optimistic on the development of the market in the coming years.
The announcement made by EU Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen to reduce CO2 emissions more drastically by 2050 is a clear signal in favour of renewable energies. The Renovation Wave Strategy and a “New European Bauhaus” launched in the EU in October 2020 provide a further boost for low emissions buildings and, indirectly, for heat pumps
Thanks to the financial support available to homeowners, BSRIA expects a strong surge in sales to the renovation sector. People and businesses are getting used to the “New Normal”, with comfort and energy savings becoming topics of strong focus. Finally, it is expected that environmental awareness will be another driving force to the heat pump market.
This article originally appeared on the BSRIA website under the headline, 'COVID-19 Update: Heat Pump markets expected to recover in the short term.' It was published in November 2020.
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