In the past, says Kai Schiefelbein, they mainly proselytized at the ISH trade fair in Frankfurt. They still had to explain the principle of the heat pump, says the managing director of Stiebel Eltron from Holzminden. This has long since changed: Today, the signs at their stand are on selling instead of proselytizing. Last year, the family-owned company produced a total of 1,80 heat pumps with a turnover of 000 billion euros. This year there will be more than 100,000 devices.
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Almost all heating manufacturers at the world's leading trade fair for water, heat and air are focusing on growth with heat pumps and investing in the expansion of production. Because this leads a way to climate neutrality for heating in houses. With electrical energy and heat from air, earth or groundwater, the heat pump heats water, which in turn increases the temperature of the apartment in the radiator. So far, the building sector has missed the political targets with its greenhouse gas emissions, which are expected to be almost halved by 2030.
And then the industry is also in the middle of a political dispute over the future of heating. Actually, the Federal Government had agreed to allow after the turn of the year only the installation of heating systems, which are operated to at least 65 percent renewable energies. The Ministry of Economics of Robert Habeck (Greens) and the Ministry of Construction of Klara Geywitz (SPD) are working on the implementation with transitional periods and exceptions, but the FDP positions itself against the agreement from last year.
So much attention
In Hall 12 of the Frankfurt trade fair ISH, which stands for International Sanitary and Heating Fair, visitors are crowded to look at small and large heat pumps. Between artificial trees and water installations, heating installers take a close look at what they are now supposed to install more often. There is a lot going on in the small heat pump country at the trade fair – and business is also going on outside. Buying interest has grown with rising energy prices and has intensified as a result of Russia's attack on Ukraine. In any case, the manufacturers consider the heat pump to be superior to the alternatives, because the device brings three or four units of heat into houses with one unit of energy. Some also expect fossil fuel prices to rise as a result of higher CO2 costs.
Kai Schiefelbein from Stiebel Eltron explains that space heating is low-temperature heat for temperatures around 20 degrees and thus just before the ambient temperature. "Producing heat by burning a high-quality fuel at 1000 degrees in flames is simply inefficient," he says when asked about technology openness. For decades, he has considered this to be the wrong way to go. "If I heat with green hydrogen via combustion processes, I need about five to eight times as much renewable electricity compared to the heat pump, depending on how good the heat pump is." As a result, the energy costs for the consumer would be very high if the state did not subsidize it significantly.
"We are for openness to technology, but we are also for realism"
The heating industry has rarely received so much attention: A few days before the start of the fair, Habeck had promised an extensive subsidy program for climate-friendly heating systems. With 236,000 heat pumps, the industry sold 53,500 heat pumps last year, much more than before and 000 percent more than in the previous year. According to the minister's wishes, this should continue. The goal: 2024,<> newly installed heat pumps. If growth continues, it will continue from <> onwards.
The Vaillant Group, which is one of the market leaders for heat pumps in Europe and continues to sell gas heating systems, is preparing for this. For Norbert Schiedeck, Chairman of the Management Board, it has been foreseeable for several years that the use of fossil energy will be increasingly restricted by European regulation. "We are in favour of openness to technology, but we are also in favour of realism," he says about the path taken to the heat pump. At present, it is not apparent that hydrogen will be available for heating houses in the next eight or ten years.