Renewables

EU households with solar panels combined with heat pumps save up to 84%

solar pv heat pumps saving natural gas report

Photo: Solarimo from Pixabay

Published

March 13, 2023

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Published:

March 13, 2023

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European households with photovoltaic panels and heat pumps saved 62% to 84% in 2022 on their energy bills compared to homes without own solar power and using natural gas for heating, according to SolarPower Europe.

The Solar Powers Heat 2023 report examines the residential sector and focuses on three European markets where gas plays a dominant role in home heating: Germany, Spain, and Italy. The report highlights savings made by households using three different technology mixes: solar PV, heat pumps, and solar PV + heat pumps combined.

The savings are compared to the price that an average family household would pay by sourcing all of its electricity from the grid, and using a gas boiler for heating.

solar pv heat pumps savings natural gas report
Photo: SolarPower Europe

The outcome is that households there saved up to EUR 3,700 last year, SolarPower Europe said.

The report finds that medium-sized residential units with solar panels have enjoyed substantial savings on their energy bills in 2022 – up to 64%, especially in combination with a heat pump – up to 84%.

Households will continue to benefit in the coming years in all scenarios

Such households will continue to benefit from their investment in the coming years in all scenarios, even with gas prices stabilized at lower levels than in 2022 and even at a precrisis level of 20 EUR per MWh, the report reads.

If gas prices drop that much, the combination of solar panels and heat pumps would still save households up to 73%. In the more probable scenario where gas prices stabilize at a higher level, Europeans would save up to 76%.

According to the report, even in years with particularly cold winters, solar panels can cover 36% of a heat pump’s needs in northern Europe. In years with warm winters, up to 63% of a heat pump’s electricity consumption can be met by household PV.

The report calls on the EU and governments to ensure that households with solar panel and heat pump combos see a return on investment within 10 years.

Solar PV substantially improves the business case for heat pump systems

The report stresses that solar PV and heat pump load profiles match surprisingly well throughout the year, especially in combination with a water buffer tank. This combination reduces households’ energy bills, while also benefiting the energy system as a whole, because it transfers electricity demand into hours of high renewable energy production.

Solar PV substantially improves the business case for heat pump systems, with savings more than tripling compared to a heat pump alone, the report reads.

Looking at the German example, together, the heat pump and solar PV dream team reduces energy bills by around 62% compared to a fossil gas residential heating system.

solar pv heat pumps saving gas report
Photo: SolarPower Europe

Acke: The best time to install solar PV and heat pumps was yesterday

Dries Acke, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe, said the best time to install household PV and heat pumps was yesterday. The next best time is now, he added.

European policymakers, in his words, must reduce payback times for solar panels and heat pumps by supporting household upfront investment and offering loans at low interest rates.

They should also end all state support for fossil gas heating, Acke said.

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