Apr 05, 2024

Generating Sustainable Impacts / Feature Story


Panasonic Unveils New Green HVAC Solutions in Europe

In 2020, the European Commission introduced the European Green Deal to address climate change and environmental degradation, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Buildings contribute 40% of energy consumption and 36% of GHG emissions in the European Union (EU), with heating and cooling accounting for 80% of household energy use.

In March 2024, the European Parliament updated building energy performance rules to achieve a climate-neutral building sector by 2050, and the REPowerEU initiative aims to install 10 million heat pumps by 2025. Under these circumstances, Europe is now witnessing a surge in demand for air-to-water (A2W) systems, which generate fewer CO2 emissions and environmental impacts compared to traditional fossil fuel-based heating solutions by collecting heat from the atmosphere to produce hot water, which is then circulated through a building to provide warmth.

On March 13, Yuki Kusumi, Panasonic Group Chief Executive Officer, and Hiroshi Komatsubara, CEO, Heating & Ventilation A/C Company Business Division Europe, were at the recent Mostra Convegno Expocomfort (MCE) exhibition in Milan, Italy to explain how Panasonic Corporation is leveraging innovative technologies and partnerships to respond to the growing need for energy-efficient Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) solutions in Europe. 

Panasonic Green Initiatives Complement EU Decarbonization Efforts

We must prevent global warming, minimize use of limited natural resources, and establish a viable circular economy as soon as possible. To this end, we must steadily achieve the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement and urgently reduce CO2 emissions,” said Kusumi firmly as he addressed participants during a briefing session at MCE.

Kusumi explained how Panasonic’s long-term environmental vision, Panasonic GREEN IMPACT (PGI), is promoting the development of energy-efficient products, systems, and services that can contribute to accelerating the drive toward carbon neutrality in Europe, and highlighted the central role that A2W solutions are expected to play.

Photo: Yuki Kusumi

Panasonic is firmly resolved to work alongside Europe in its decarbonization efforts. Later this year, Panasonic will begin demonstrating a renewable energy-based autonomous micro-grid at its UK factory using hydrogen fuel cells, storage batteries, and solar panels. By demonstrating energy demand-side solutions we hope to minimize the consumption of fossil fuels,” said Kusumi. 

“Meanwhile, Panasonic is building a new factory in the Czech Republic to respond to growing demand for A2W systems, and last year, we acquired the commercial HVAC business of Systemair AB of Sweden. By basing ourselves firmly in Europe, and through collaboration with local communities and customers, Panasonic will continue to take up challenges toward the ambitious goals set by the European Commission.

Japan’s First Natural Refrigerant A2W Products Address Customer Pain Points

Due to the European Green Deal, more users are opting for heat pumps over gas boilers in homes and light commercial spaces. Some countries, like Germany and the Netherlands, have started banning the use of boilers in new homes under certain circumstances. However, heat pumps for multi-family homes may require additional water pipes and significant space to achieve the required capacity.

We have identified three main points of interest for customers,” said Komatsubara as he explained Panasonic’s HVAC business strategy in Europe. “The first is for multi-family housing—demand for which continues to increase. Solutions for multi-family homes and light commercial spaces are limited, and there is need for a solution based on larger capacity heat pumps. The second is demand for an integrated system capable of heating, cooling, ventilation, and domestic hot water. Third, customers want more efficient heating. We have a heat pump for Europe that can reduce CO2 emissions by replacing traditional boilers, but users want to reduce running costs even further through efficient energy management.”

Photo: Hiroshi Komatsubara

Komatsubara then explained how Panasonic is taking steps to move beyond its core strength of A2W hardware to begin offering indoor heating management and energy saving solutions that can provide the value that customers are looking for. 

To meet demand for a high-capacity, compact solution, Komatsubara announced that Panasonic will be introducing the new Big Aquarea M Series, which is based on Panasonic heat pump technology and know-how from Systemair’s commercial air conditioning business. With this series, Panasonic also becomes the first Japanese manufacturer to adopt natural refrigerant R290 for A2W in multi-family units and light commercial properties.

Arriving in September this year, the Big Aquarea M Series will have three models—20, 25, and 30 kW. Capable of scaling to 300 kW in cascading formation, each unit is 30 percent more compact than existing heat pumps. The units will be manufactured in Europe. Finally, the new models will have a compact design that is approximately 30 percent smaller1 than current A2W for homes, allowing installation in places with limited space. 

1 Installation area for one Panasonic 30 kW A2W model compared to two J Series (16 kW) models

Photo: air-to-water (A2W) heat pumps

Business Alliance with Innova Provides Integrated Indoor Solutions

“As we move forward with decarbonization, we are promoting the replacement of boilers with heat pumps for improved energy saving. But customers want more than equipment—they also want convenient energy management that will allow them to reduce running costs and save more energy,” said Komatsubara.

“Panasonic may have strong points in outdoor solutions, but we are still in the process of developing measures to improve the value of indoor space,” he continued, before introducing Panasonic’s strategic business alliance with INNOVA S.r.l. and plans for a new proposal for an indoor climate control solution. Panasonic and INNOVA signed a capital and business alliance agreement on February 1. Through this agreement, both parties will promote comprehensive collaboration on production, sales, and technology development. The first next-generation integrated housing solution is expected in 2025.

INNOVA is truly the best partner. We have known INNOVA for more than ten years and after a mutual procurement relationship, we decided to expand our cooperation in Europe. We hope to create a solution that would save energy, utilize the water circulation piping in the home, and integrate everything into a single control that can be updated,” said Komatsubara. 

Photo: Oreste Bottaro

New Partnership Enables First Ever Room-By-Room Control of Heat Pumps

Komatsubara then announced a partnership with tado° GmbH, a Munich-based supplier of intelligent energy management systems for buildings. The partnership will allow Panasonic to link its A2W to the tado° smart thermostat to enable remote temperature control of the A2W main outdoor unit and indoor units such as radiators. “By connecting tado° smart thermostats to indoor units, such as radiators, it is possible to remotely adjust the temperature and check the usage status, as well as perform highly efficient operation based on the weather and the user’s usage pattern,” he said. 

Explaining the uniqueness of this combined solution, Christian Deilmann, tado° co-founder and CPO, said: “For the first time we are bringing room-by-room control to the heat pump world to allow for aggregated control, including indoor temperatures. Heat pump management software not only reduces the demand amount of energy necessary to power a heat pump, but also controls when heat pumps are running. We are really looking forward to making the partnership with Panasonic a great success.”

Photo: Christian Deilmann

The solution supports optimal heating and cooling operations using machine learning based on weather forecasts and customer usage patterns. The integration of Aquarea heat pump technology with multi-room control and energy management services is expected to yield cost savings of 30 percent and promotes the use of electric power from renewable sources.

A bundled solution is under development and should be available in Germany and Italy before winter 2024. Development of specialized A2W software to enhance energy efficiency is under consideration for 2025. 

PGI and Carbon Neutrality Commitments Reflect Corporate Purpose

“Back in 1932, our founder, Konosuke Matsushita, realized that achieving an ideal society with affluence both in matter and mind must be our true corporate purpose. He declared a long-term, 250-year plan to accomplish this lofty goal across ten 25-year phases,” said Kusumi. “Our predecessors worked hard to resolve social problems and to contribute to society. That baton has been passed to succeeding generations to fulfill Panasonic’s true purpose.

“We must pass along this beautiful planet to our children and grandchildren so they can continue to live in comfort. To achieve carbon neutrality at the earliest stage, our company will continue to develop and offer a variety of businesses and technologies. Our contribution may be small in size, but by taking various initiatives on the energy demand side, we hope to make a significant impact on global decarbonization. The HVAC business will be playing a leading role in these initiatives.”

Our HVAC business division in Europe ensures not only the creation of a healthy and sustainable environment, but also brings well-being and comfort,” said Komatsubara. “To realize this goal we listen sincerely to our customers and work together with our partners to create customer value in a timely manner. We will continue to realize Panasonic GREEN IMPACT and CO2 reduction through all our initiatives.”

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