The 12th IEA Heat Pump Conference in Rotterdam

When I first participated in the third IEA Heat Pump Conference in 1990 in Tokyo I had already been active developing heat pumps ten years before. However the market development in Netherlands completely blocked and failed to develop in that period. Coming to this third Conference my eyes were opened seeing the successful markets in Japan, Switzerland and other countries. Coming back home we set up a national expert group and in my function as policy consultant with the Ministry I advised to acknowledge heat pumps as renewable heating technology and to get the fourth Heat Pump Conference to Maastricht in 1993 to show my country what was possible and how to learn from others.

Twenty-one years later at the 11th Conference in Montréal, people asked me why all the innovations in Netherlands in the application of heat pumping technologies were kept as a hidden gem for internal use only. Innovative? I thought, what innovation? We are just doing it. But they were right, the innovation is not so much in the technology itself but in the way in which it is applied. So we then decided to organize the 12th Conference in the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam Netherlands, to show what we are doing.

For the 12th IEA Heat Pump Conference we had the theme “Rethink Energy, Act Now!” And we want to show that it is possible and urgently needed! In the host-city of Rotterdam almost all high rise buildings are heated with heat pumps. That is a real showcase.

Especially in domestic applications the governmental policy has been focusing on reducing the energy use by legislation with a long term tightening towards energy zero. This started of the developments in the first place in newly constructed buildings. The stiff economic competition with cheap gas boilers, the extensive gas-grid and the small space available in the domestic applications triggered further innovation. The result is a number of smart solutions in size of the technology and simplicity to install resulting in industrialisation of the building process for new domestic buildings and for renovation of existing buildings. Energy Costs Zero projects are becoming the next thing in the market making Netherlands ready for 2020 and the next decades.

The extensive gas-grid and the rather ‘weak’ electric infrastructure resulted in the development and application of the first hybrid heat pumps. I even installed one of the first experimental ones at my own house. Great experience.

At the first day of the Conference in Rotterdam with seven workshops we had the challenge with the festivities for the championship of Feijenoord to get in all participants in time! We succeeded with the support of the local authorities. These workshops were a really interesting interaction between experts from the different IEA-TCP’s generating new ideas and international collaboration. For the Conference itself we received an overwhelming number of 264 high quality papers and thus could create a Conference program with four tracks of sessions during three days. Most of the sessions were directly related to the work in past, running and future Annexes under the HPT-TCP. The great challenge for the organisation is to attract participant other than authors. With over 500 participants from 34 countries we could welcome many new faces.

It has been a great honour for us to organize the 12th IEA Heat Pump Conference 2017 in Rotterdam and we thank all our sponsors, reviewers and those who supported us.

Onno Kleefkens M.Sc.


Phetradico Communication