According to Destatis, the proportion of heat pumps used as primary heating has doubled within ten years. According to current building permits 76.3 % of residential buildings approved in 2023 will be primarily heated with heat pumps. The production of heat pumps increased in 2023 compared to the previous year, but declined in the second half of the year.

Heat pumps are being used for heating in more and more new residential buildings in Germany. Just under two thirds (64.6 %) of the almost 96,800 residential buildings completed in 2023 used heat pumps as their primary energy source, i.e. mainly for heating. Compared to the previous year alone, the proportion rose by 8 percentage points; compared to 2014 (31.8%), it has more than doubled, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). Heat pumps are primarily used in detached and semi-detached houses: a heat pump was used as the primary source of heating energy in 68.9% of all detached and semi-detached houses completed in 2023, while its use was significantly less common in multi-family houses (41.1%).

Renewable energy sources are used for heating in four out of five new residential buildings

Two thirds of newly built residential buildings are heated by heat pumps. Graphic: Destatis

Heat pumps use geothermal and environmental thermal energy and are therefore a renewable energy source. The majority of newly constructed residential buildings in Germany are now predominantly heated with renewable energy: renewable energy was the primary energy source for heating in 69.3 % of residential buildings completed in 2023. In 2014, the share was still 38.5%. In addition to geothermal or air heat pumps, renewable energies in heating systems also include wood, for example in pellet heating systems or wood-burning stoves (share as primary heating energy source: 3.7%), solar thermal energy (0.5%), biogas/biomethane (0.3%) and other biomass (0.2%).

However, renewable energies are also used as a supplementary energy source, for example through a wood-burning stove. Whether as a primary or secondary source, renewable energies will be used for heating in four out of five new residential buildings (79.6%) in 2023. In 2015, the share was still 61.5%.

One fifth of new buildings are primarily heated with gas

Natural gas was used as the second most important primary energy source in 2023 in 20.1 % of new buildings. The proportion of gas heating as a primary energy source has more than halved within ten years: in 2014, it was still at 50.7 %. 8.2% of new residential buildings were primarily heated with district heating (2014: 7.9%). Oil heating systems were only used as the primary heating system in 300 new homes, or 0.3% of new builds (2014: 1.2%).

A good three quarters of all approved new residential buildings are to be heated primarily with heat pumps

The trend towards heating with renewable energies is also evident in the planning of new residential buildings. 80.7% of the approximately 67,900 residential buildings approved in 2023 are to be heated primarily with renewable energy. Most of these are also heat pumps: they are to be used as the primary heating system in 76.3% of approved new buildings. Natural gas, the most common conventional energy source, is also playing an increasingly minor role in the planning of residential buildings with a share of 7.3%.

Production of heat pumps

The production of heat pumps has recently been in decline. Graphic: Destatis

The increasing use of heat pumps in new buildings is also reflected in production: In 2023, a good 400,100 heat pumps were manufactured in Germany, 14.0% more than in the previous year with just under 350,900 heat pumps. However, the production of heating appliances recently declined after a significant increase in some cases, particularly in 2022. Around 54,400 heat pumps were produced in Germany in the fourth quarter of 2023. This was 41.4 % less than in the previous quarter, when 92,900 heat pumps were produced, and around half as many (-49.5 %) as in the same quarter of the previous year (107,700 heat pumps). The last time fewer heat pumps were produced was in the second quarter of 2021, when 53,600 were produced.

Foreign trade in heat pumps fell significantly in the first quarter of 2024

A similar trend can be seen in foreign trade with heat pumps: in 2023, heat pumps worth EUR 1.0 billion were imported, an increase in value of 39.2% compared to the previous year. However, foreign trade in heat pumps has recently declined: in the first quarter of 2024, heat pumps worth just under 163.4 million euros were imported into Germany. This corresponds to a decrease of 28.4 % compared to the previous quarter, when heat pumps worth EUR 228.1 million were imported into Germany, and a decrease of 35.5 % compared to the same quarter of the previous year, when imports amounted to EUR 253.4 million.

A similar trend can also be seen in the export of heat pumps. Heat pumps worth EUR 802.5 million were exported in 2023, an increase of 3.2% compared to the previous year. In the 1st quarter of 2024, heat pumps worth EUR 117.5 million were exported from Germany – 7.6% less than in the previous quarter (EUR 127.2 million) and 52.0% less than in the 1st quarter of 2023 (EUR 244.8 million).

Picture at the top: In Germany, heating with heat pumps is becoming the norm. Figure: Circular Technology with DALL-E

By fil