TRI-HP partners in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Norway organised workshops with local stakeholders representing a broad spectrum of the heating sector with the objective to explore potential social implications of TRI-HP systems and improve the stakeholders’ acceptance of these systems. Particular emphasis was given to market acceptance in order to understand potential barriers and hindrances for the adoption of TRI-HP systems by market participants.
Main barriers and challenges
Back in 2020, TRI-HP partners had conducted a series of interviews with stakeholders in these countries with the aim to identify drivers and barriers towards TRI-HP system acceptance. The country-specific workshops came to validate the initial findings of the interviews and create a more solid basis for stakeholders’ views on TRI-HP systems.
For instance, “investment and upfront costs” were found among the key challenges in three of the four national workshops as well as “shortage of skilled workers” and “high planning and coordination effort“.
The important role of “high upfront costs” and “regulatory and administrative barriers” already evident for Spain in the interviews, was likewise confirmed during the stakeholder workshops. The workshop in Norway reaffirmed that the “lack of environmental awareness” and “missing water-borne systems” as the major challenges in the country; while In Germany, the most important barriers were more relevant to issues of “shortage of skilled workers, training and deployment of skilled workers”, and “electricity prices and electricity market shortage of skilled workers”. Similarly, in Switzerland the “shortage of skilled workers” was reported as the main barrier and harmonisation across different legislations in the cantons is estimated to have a positive impact on the social and market acceptance of renewable heating and cooling systems.
The way forward
The conclusions of the workshops suggest some key actions and considerations that aim to improve stakeholders’ acceptance towards TRI-HP systems:
- The non-technical aspects of TRI-HP systems (e.g. investment costs etc.) should be addressed at an early stage of the system development.
- The economic efficiency of H/C systems should be considered over the entire life cycle.
- There should be stronger support for the development of new business models such as energy contracting.
- TRI-HP or similar systems and their components should be less complex and easier to install.
- Training and qualification schemes should become available to potential designers and installers.
- Raising awareness across all stakeholders groups about the energy, economic and environmental benefits of these systems is important.
Moreover, as a rather overarching recommendation, it was suggested that the interdependencies that exist between the challenges are quite complex, and they shouldn’t be looked in isolation from each other. Therefore, a more holistic approach to these challenges is needed, and any measures and actions to improve the framework conditions for market acceptance of TRI-HP systems (e.g. funding instruments, qualification offers or communication activities etc.) should take this holistic perspective into account. Finally, any actions to communicate the benefits and explain the barriers and challenges to stakeholders should be tailored to their different needs and expectations, adjusted to the national socio-economic landscape in each country.