Every year, almost 50% of the total energy consumed in Europe is used for the generation of heat for either domestic or industrial purposes. The vast majority of this energy is produced through the combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal – with an impressive environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Today the social, natural and economic costs of climate change highlight the urgency of moving towards a new and more sustainable energy scenario.
For all these reasons policy makers, investors and citizens are realising that the time for heating and cooling from renewable energy sources has come.
The European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan – proposed by the European Commission in order to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon energy technologies – recognises the essential role of renewable energy sources for heating and cooling as a part of the EU’s strategy to improve the security of the energy supplies and to foster a competitive edge in the related highly innovative industries.
The European Technology and Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating & Cooling (RHC-ETIP) brings together stakeholders from the biomass, geothermal, solar thermal and heat pump sectors – including the related industries such as district heating and cooling, thermal energy storage, and hybrid systems – to define a common strategy for increasing the use of renewable energy technologies for heating and cooling.
Building on the experience matured since 2005 within the European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP), now incorporated in the RHC-Platform, five major European organisations – EUREC, Bioenergy Europe (formerly known as AEBIOM), EGEC, Solar Heat Europe (formerly known as ESTIF) and EHPA – are leading the process towards the definition of a joint Vision and Strategic Research Agenda for the renewable heating and cooling sector.