Feedback from industry groups on the development of an EU heating and cooling strategy has highlighted sharp differences in opinion on how to balance energy supply and savings.
Replacement of existing heating systems offers "clearly better" opportunities to cut emissions from heating than relying on insulation improvements, said biomass industry lobby Aebiom.
Improvements to buildings have significantly longer reinvestment periods than heating equipment, it said.
But insulation manufacturers' lobby Eurima said that tapping energy saving opportunities in buildings before tackling heat supply would bring "the largest societal benefits and avoid lock-in effects".
Focusing on energy savings avoids the development of an "oversized heating and cooling distribution system", Eurima said, adding that much energy used for heating and cooling is compensating for losses from poorly performing buildings. It called for a comprehensive policy framework for renovation.
The associations made their comments in response to working papers released by the European Commission intended to form the basis for a new heating and cooling strategy http://www.endseurope.com/42789/?referrer=bulletin&DCMP=EMC-ENDS-EUROPE-DAILY to be published by the end of the year. The Commission requested feedback on how to find the "cost-optimal" balance between various options to decarbonise the sector.
Power industry association Eurelectric argued that low-carbon electricity needs to be part of the least-cost approach to decarbonising heating. It criticised the Commission for overlooking low-carbon technologies such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage in favour of renewables.
It also found the emphasis on district heating problematic. While the technology will "certainly be part of the solution", the large-scale infrastructure investment will lock the EU into the chosen technology path for decades, it said.
By contrast, district heating and cooling association Euroheat&Power argued that thermal storage is "more cost-effective than the storage of electricity, and large-scale projects deliver significant cost reductions compared to solutions at the level of a single building".
Combined heat and power (CHP) lobby Cogen Europe argued that optimal solutions will depend on local conditions, including whether infrastructure such as district heating networks are available.
Pushing for an electrification of the heating and cooling sector above certain levels depending on local conditions will "lead to substantially higher costs for society", Cogen argued. It called for EU building policies to include low-carbon heat supplies such as micro CHP in addition to renewables.
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