Our analysis suggests there are four broad clusters of countries when it comes to heat pump installations between 2011 and 2021.

1. Heat pump powerhouses: Finland, Norway, Sweden

These countries, all in Scandinavia, have long-standing strengths in installing heat pumps despite their relatively cold climates.

2. Heat pump coolers: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal

These countries have large numbers of heat pumps installed, primarily air-to-air heat pumps, which are used for cooling more than heating.

3. Heat pump surgers: Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland

These countries have experienced significant growth in heat pumps in recent years, installing a mix of air-to-air and air-to-water heat pumps.

4. Heat pump latecomers: Austria, Czechia, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom

These countries have been slower to switch towards heat pumps, although some have begun to experience early signs of growth in recent years.

Over the last ten years, the heat pump coolers – France, Italy, Spain and Portugal – have seen the highest rate of heat pump installations, with the number of annual installations per household more than doubling over a decade. However, over 90% of heat pumps installed in heat pump cooler countries are reversible air-to-air heat pumps, whose main purpose is to cool rather than to heat homes.

Heat pump powerhouses – Norway, Sweden and Finland – also use air-to-air heat pumps more widely than air-to-water, but their primary purpose is for heating rather than cooling.

Heat pump surgers – Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and the Netherlands – have seen the fastest rate of growth in heat pump installations, increasing by more than eight times between 2011 and 2021. In 2011, heat pump sales from the surgers accounted for 5% of total sales from the four clusters. By 2021, this had increased to 19% of total sales. 

Heat pump latecomers – Austria, Czechia, Germany, Ireland and the UK – have trailed behind their peers in heat pump installations. Some of these countries have seen heat pump installations pick up sharply in the last few years but from a lower base.

Across the 17 European countries included in this analysis, total heat pump installations increased from under 2 million in 2011 to over 5 million in 2021. Air-to-air heat pumps dominate this total, with many of these located in heat pump cooler countries. Air-to-water heat pumps have seen strong growth to just under 1 million installations in 2021. Exhaust air (around 50,000 installations in 2021) and ground source heat pumps (around 100,000 installations in 2021) both remain much less common.

Authors

Dimitris Sarsentis

Dimitris Sarsentis

Dimitris Sarsentis

Analyst, sustainable future mission

Dimitris joined Nesta’s sustainable future mission as an analyst after graduating from his MSc.

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Lauren Orso

Lauren Orso

Lauren Orso

Group Data Journalist

Lauren is a data journalist who researches, produces, and publishes data stories.

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