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Heating and cooling

Heating and cooling constitute around half of the EU energy consumption.

Decarbonising the heating and cooling sector is central to achieving the energy transition. This is recognised in the European Green Deal and the ‘Fit for 55’ package, as without increasing the share of renewables in this sector, our energy and climate targets cannot be achieved cost-effectively.

Accelerate the development of renewables

The 2018 Renewable Energy Directive introduced specific provisions to accelerate the development of renewables in heating and cooling, in particular by increasing the policy prioritisation of this sector. These include indicative targets where each EU country must increase the share of renewables in heating and cooling by an indicative 1.1 percentage point every year, with a similar target for district heating and cooling.

The revised Renewable Energy Directive (EU/2023/2413) strengthens the heating and cooling target (Article 23), as well as the district heating and cooling target (Article 24). It also extends the measures EU countries can take to achieve these targets and includes specific provisions on integrating waste heat and cold and enhancing the heating and cooling sector’ role in energy system integration. In addition, the provisions on training and certification of heating and cooling systems’ installers (Article 18, Annex IV) and measures for integrating renewables in the EU building stock (new Article 15a), the largest heating and cooling end-use sector, are also strengthened.

EU Heating and Cooling Strategy

The 2016 EU Heating and Cooling Strategy provided a first overview of the energy consumption and fuel mix of the heating and cooling sector in the main end-use sectors: buildings and industry. It also set out actions and tools to ensure that the heating and cooling sector contributes to the EU objective of climate neutrality by 2050. These actions and tools, which were implemented in the Clean Energy for all Europeans’ package adopted in 2019, relate to increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency in this sector, while applying in parallel an integrated approach to the energy system.

The EU renewable energy target has strong links with the EU energy efficiency targets and measures. The more energy that is saved, the easier it is for EU countries and the EU to fulfil their renewable energy target. In addition, renewable heat sources (ambient and geothermal energy used mainly via heat pumps, solar thermal, etc.) provide low temperature heat (up to 200­° C), working most optimally with highly energy efficient well-insulated buildings or low temperature process heat (for example, breweries and food drying).

Decarbonising the heating and cooling sector is one of the 3 focus areas of the renovation wave strategy. To help contribute towards this goal, in 2023 the Commission initiated work towards a Heat Pump Action Plan.

Evidence base supporting policy making and implementation

To assist policymaking, develop new legislation and ensure evidence-based implementation, the Commission has conducted a series of studies on the heating and cooling sector. 

Studies on heating and cooling

Comprehensive assessments on efficient heating and cooling

In line with Article 14 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU), EU countries are requested to carry out a comprehensive assessment on efficient heating and cooling, and notify the Commission when completed. These assessments should be carried out every 5 years. 

The revised Annex VIII to the Directive (amended by Delegated Regulation 2019/826/EU) describes the methodology for the assessments. Notably, the assessments must comply with energy union legislation, and they be closely linked with the planning of policy measures related to the Regulation on the governance of the energy union and climate action (EU/2018/1999).

The list below includes the assessments and their annexes per EU country.