Perception - Overview of Heating and Cooling: Perceptions, Markets and Regulatory Frameworks for Decarbonisation

The overarching objective and challenge of the EU’s climate and energy policy is the transition to a net-zero emission society. The EU countries have agreed on 2030 climate and energy targets (greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, renewables) to achieve the transformation to a low carbon energy economy (see 2050 long-term strategy). Renewable energies and energy efficiency are key for this transition. In both area the EU has to intensify its efforts for a transition to net-zero emissions society. As H&C accounts for about 50% in energy consumption and as the non-ETS contributions are supposed to decrease by 30% until 2030, special efforts are needed there. Given the current energy and climate policies, the targets and overarching objectives, and the uncertain or insufficient target achievement the question arises: What are drivers and barriers of the H&C sector towards a low carbon sector?

To achieve the decarbonisation of the H&C sector, solutions at the individual, system and macro-level are necessary. In this project, the focus lies on identifying the regulatory, economic and individual conditions that characterise the H&C market. A particular attention is put on district heating and heat pump solutions. With regard to policy instruments, a specific focus is directed at energy efficiency obligations schemes (EEOSs), which are the preferred instrument to fulfil the obligations under Article 7 EED.


The objective of this study is to identify factors, regulations and instruments that promote the use of efficient and renewable technologies, and thus the transition of the energy system to a low-carbon energy system. In detail, this includes:

  • Identifying actors’ needs and interactions with the system, structures and governance
  • Identifying policies, regulatory framework, schemes and structures, governing the transition of H&C system, and the behaviour of actors.
  • Identifying the role of institutions and structures for a transition to net-zero emission H&C sector
  • Assessing the significance of those factors for the transition to a renewable energy based and efficient H&C sector with a focus on istrict heating and cooling (DHC) and heat pumps (HP)
  • Describing the main components of DHC and HP systems and their costs, as well as the benefits of these technologies from an individual and societal perspective
  • Assessing existing and suggesting further policies/regulatory instruments driving the transition of the H&C sector, with a special focus on HP and DHC

The project encompasses five Tasks:

  1. Literature review on perception of actors and factors governing decisions of actors regarding DHC and HP
  2. Empirical study on perceptions, drivers and barriers of DHC and HP in the residential, industrial and public sector
  3. Regulatory frameworks affecting the use of DHC and HP as well as costs of networks
  4. Potential customers of DHC and price of DHC by consumer types
  5. Tradabel elements of EEOS


DG ENER, European Commission


  • Fraunhofer ISI
  • AIT
  • EHPA
  • University of Aberdeen