Europe can unhook from Russian gas if it bets on them

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Europe depends (and heavily) on gas. It is the second primary source of energy on the continent and 90% of what it consumes comes from abroad. In other words, Europe depends (and a lot) on Russia. So much so that according to the European Central Bank, a 10% cut in Russian gas supply would lead to a drop in GDP in the euro zone of around 0.7%. For this reason, although attempts are being made to cut its energy ties with Moscow, the reality is that we do not have many alternatives in the short term.

“Short term”. I emphasize “in the short term” because the truth is that there is a ‘master move’ that could make us “independent” of Russian gas and, incidentally, put us on the path marked out by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to decarbonize the world in 2050: initiate a huge conversion plan to replace gas boilers with heat pumps .

What is a heat pump? These are systems that, through aerothermal energy, allow the use of thermal energy from the air to produce both air conditioning and heating or hot water. What is the same: they are a perfect substitute for natural gas systems. Above all, because in recent years they have not stopped being more and more efficient: it is estimated that, with current technology, it is already possible to achieve energy savings of up to 25%.


A trend that comes from afar In fact, it is enough to look at the numbers to see that the process of replacing gas boilers with heat pumps is already underway in many European countries. Despite the reluctance of the general public (and the stiff competition offered by the subsidies that many countries give to gas), the data shows that the market share of heat pumps is higher in European countries with colder winters.

The relationship can be seen very well if we represent it graphically: the four countries with the highest proportion of heat pumps are Norway (60%), Sweden (43%), Finland (41%) and Estonia (34%). Coincidentally (or not), The countries with the coldest winters in Europe. It is logical. The colder and longer the winter, the greater energy savings.

Slower adoption than expected. However, the adoption of these systems is not being as fast as we would like. Currently, in the world, there are only 177 million units installed and they represent 7% of global heating. And in that distribution, in fact, Europe does not even lead the adoption: most of these heat pumps are in China (33%), in North America (23%) and, only later, in Europe (12%). And it is that, in many European countries (especially in those that enjoyed gas at good prices until now) the change is not only technological, but also cultural.


If the recent increase in gas prices in Europe and Asia were starting to change things. The war in Ukraine and the energy disconnection with Russia could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in this first-order energy transition. And it won’t just be good “geopolitical” news (now that this level of analysis has become topical), it will also be good climate news.

A massive weapon against climate change. as she said, from the International Energy Agency (IEA) they are clear that this type of technology is essential to achieve a scenario of zero carbon emissions in 2050. According to their estimates, 55% of the energy demand for heating worldwide should be based on aerothermal energy by 2050. That means two things : first, that 1,800 million heat pumps will be necessary; and second, that we are going very slowly. In 2020 we installed 58% less than we should to achieve those goals. We are not going to have a better situation if we turn the figures around.

Europe depends (and heavily) on gas. It is the second primary source of energy on the continent and 90% of…

Europe depends (and heavily) on gas. It is the second primary source of energy on the continent and 90% of…

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