REPLACE final conference – vision of the future, renewable technologies, obstacles and solutions

Keeping the heat on in times of crises

“Keeping the heat on in times of crisis” was the motto of the REPLACE final conference, with around 120 participants in Brussels and online at 21. March 2023. The project has supported households in eight European countries to replace their inefficient heating and cooling systems with climate-friendly ones since 2019. During implementation, it faced first Corona and then the energy crisis.

As Karlis Goldstein from the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications remarked in his key note speech: “We didn’t expect that we would find ourselves in the current context geopolitically and also in terms of the energy transition. … if we would only start now to think about the solutions, then we would have wasted a couple of good years. I’m very grateful for the REPLACE project team for all their effort. And it is indeed timely to look into the results of their work.”

Future vision for the heating and cooling sector and three renewable technologies

After a look into the REPLACE project by project coordinator Herbert Tretter (Austrian Energy Agency), Karlis Goldstein in his key note speech presented a vision of the future heating and cooling sector in the EU. Among others, he presented the vectors for climate friendly heating and cooling like planning, electrification and storage and hinted at fairness to be the most critical point for societal benefit.

Three renewable technologies were also presented at the conference: In respect to bioenergy, Manolis Karampinis (Bioenergy Europe) pointed out the need for clear and consistent policies and government support for a mass switch to renewable appliances. Concerning heat pumps in domestic heating, Jozefien Vanbecelaere (European Heat Pump Association) focused on the question if heat pumps can deliver and highlighted skills as a crucial factor to drive the use of heat pumps in households. The role of district heating in the decarbonization of the heating sector was presented by Amélie Ancelle (Energy Cities). In The Decarb City Pipes 2050 project, 7 cities develop decarbonization strategies including energy planning maps, adjusted to EU and national policies as well as local ones.

Objectives, crisis-related obstacles and solutions for the heat transition in Europe

Dražen Balić (Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar, Croatia) dealt with objectives and crisis-related obstacles ahead for the heat transition in Europe. Among others, Balić addressed global challenges like the climate crises and fuel disruptions, barriers to the transition like technology and market maturity barriers and solutions like a strong regulatory framework and citizen involvement.

Solutions from the REPLACE pilot regions

In a solutions session participants learned about local biomass district heating networks that can alleviate the lack of installers (Germany), the Austrian One-Stop-Shop that makes heating replacements as simple, fast and sustainable as possible, providing 15 mandatory services of a basic all-in-one package, the successful cooperation between several organisations in Slovenia that led to REPLACE campaigns and materials being anchored at national level, and information hubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina that reached more than 1000 end consumers.

Panel discussion: how the residential heat transition in Europe can be implemented

The final panel discussion focused on how the residential heat transition in Europe can be implemented. Concerning heat pumps, Jozefien Vanbecelaere mentioned standardization and plug and play systems to make installations easier and cheaper. Concerning bioenergy, Manolis Karampinis argued that the renewable aspect of bioheat needs to be better recognized and users need to be enabled to safely invest in bioheat.

Speaking for the project regions, Francisco Puente from Spain pointed out that there is no one solution for all buildings, but that the heating technology needs to be adapted to the situation, climate etc., Angel Nikolaev from Bulgaria pointed out the challenge that there are no subsidies for replacements in his low-income region, and Natasha Markovska from North Macedonia wished for a country-wide heating and cooling map as a planning basis for all stakeholders.

REPLACE Newsletter #4 – Final Conference

Presentations and video recordings

If you are interested in more details, please find all presentations and video recordings here.

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