In 2020, the international community warned of concerns about delays in decarbonization efforts due to the impact of the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), and set long-term goals and efforts for achieving a decarbonization society.

Heat Pump & Thermal Storage Technology Center of Japan (HPTCJ) analyzed the effects of reducing final energy consumption and greenhouse gases by expanding the use of heat pumps, which are one of the recommendations subject to the highest expectations. The reduction effect is 12% of the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target of Japan’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) and about 14% of the ambitious target for 2050, and the results suggest that heat pumps will be the key to green recovery for a future decarbonized society.

  • Increasing international attention to heat pumps

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic occurring while measures to combat climate change were being tackled in various countries under the Paris Agreement and SDGs, the International Energy Agency (IEA) brought together ministers from each country on July 9. At this meeting it was announced that efforts for decarbonization would not slow down, and recommendations were made for concrete efforts, demonstrating the importance of electrification and the use of heat pumps. In Japan, as one of the energy-saving measures for the prospects of long-term energy supply and demand, introductory target values have been set for heat pumps and some progress management has been carried out. “Revolutionary Environmental Innovation Strategy (2020.1.21)” and “Current Status and Issues of Energy Situation (from the meeting materials of the Basic Policy Subcommittee of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, 2020.7.1)” have once again shown the importance of electrification and particular attention was given to the role of heat pumps.

  • Effect of reducing final energy consumption and greenhouse gases by expanding the spread of heat pumps *1

HPTCJ conducted quantitative analysis of the outlook for the spread of heat pumps, taking into account the trends in heat pump technology development and the fields of application of heat pump equipment. When heat pump equipment is used to replace combustion equipment that meets the heat demand of the consumer sector (residential and commercial sectors) and industrial sector, the effects of reducing final energy consumption and greenhouse gases are as follows.

– Reduction effect on final energy consumption (2018 BAU standard: medium case)

2030: ▲ 9.14 million kL, 2050: ▲ 31.32 million kL

– Reduction effect on greenhouse gas emissions (2018 emissions standard: medium case)

       2030: ▲ 37.54 million tCO2, 2050: ▲ 136.99 million tCO2

This value is about 12% of the CO2 reduction target (▲26% in 2030: about 308 million tCO2) of the Japanese promise draft announced in July 2015, and by 2050 to achieve the 2℃ target under the Paris Agreement. It is equivalent to about 14% of the long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target (▲80%: about 950 million tCO2).

 ➢ Effect of reducing final energy consumption (2018 BAU standard)

Changes in final energy consumption


Breakdown of reduction effect by industry and use (medium case)

Reduction effect on greenhouse gas emissions (2018 emissions standard)

Changes in greenhouse gas emissions

Breakdown of reduction effect by industry and use (medium case)

Considering the life cycle of buildings and equipment, 2030 and 2050 are not dates in the distant future, and it is thought that there are only one or two opportunities for new construction and equipment renovation where heat pumps can be introduced. In order to achieve Japan’s policy goals and meet the high expectations of the international community, it is necessary to prevent lock-in with the few opportunities for introduction and instead aim for green recovery through high-level cases, not limited to low- and medium-level cases.

* 1 BAU refers to natural cases (Business As Usual) without any special measures. Here, HPTCJ uses fixed cases where the stock share and flow efficiency of each heat pump in FY2018 is assumed to be constant in the future. The final energy consumption reduction effect is based on the idea that the difference from BAU in the Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook is the reduction amount. Also, regarding the greenhouse gas reduction effect, the reduction amount is based on the difference compared to the CO2 emissions in FY2013 in Japan’s INDC. In both cases, as the base year and the future outlook for macro frames are different, and simple comparisons are not possible, this is for reference purposes only.

Green Development Center.

Previous articleSodium Sulfur Battery