Cygnet or ugly duckling – what makes the difference? A tale of heat-pump market developments in Sweden

Lars J Nilsson, Max Åhman, Joakim Nordqvist

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceedingpeer-review

253 Downloads (Pure)


Who can pick a winner? Since 1974, various types of targeted support have at different times been directed at the development of the heat pump market in Sweden – which in the following decades oscillated violently between soaring sales and collapse. Eventually, however, small heat pumps for space heating of residential buildings have in recent years securely established themselves as a mature and competitive technology within the Swedish energy system. This presentation portrays the events and actors that defined the formation and transformation processes of the heat pump market segment in Sweden, extracting pieces of experience that contribute to our improved understanding of how combinations of policy instruments, their application and termination, can affect whether a technology is perceived and received by the market as a handsome swan-to-be or no more than a simple duckling.

Despite failing policies and markets, and despite continuously changing drivers in national energy policy, this technology has now lived up to the expectations of its proponents of the 1970s. One part of the explanation is found in the unique composition of the Swedish electricity supply and energy mix. Another is the perseverance of important key actors. A third part lies within the learning process that has taken place on the policy-making arena. Observations are made concerning the prospects for managing technical change. The evolution may be seen as an uncoordinated transition management process over 25-30 years. A coordinated effort might have produced better resluts, but it is not clear whether it could have been sustained over such a long time period in changing organisational and political contexts.

A number of evaluations of policy instruments used in efforts to manage heat pump development have been performed along the way. These provide important information about the course of transpired events. But it is noted that such documents are permeated by the context in which they were written. Their assupmtions and results need to be read and interpreted accordingly.
Translated title of the contributionVärmepumpsmarknadens utveckling i Sverige
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication[Host publication title missing]
PublisherEuropean Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE)
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Eventeceee 2005 Summer Study Energy Savings: What Works & Who Delivers? - Mandelieu
Duration: 2005 May 302005 Jun 4


Conferenceeceee 2005 Summer Study Energy Savings: What Works & Who Delivers?

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Energy Systems

Free keywords

  • Market transformation
  • procurement
  • policy environments
  • teknikförändring
  • styrning av utveckling
  • värmepumpar
  • bostadsuppvärmning
  • upphandling
  • Marknadsomvandling
  • policymiljöer
  • technical change
  • heat pumps
  • residential heating
  • transition management


Dive into the research topics of 'Cygnet or ugly duckling – what makes the difference? A tale of heat-pump market developments in Sweden'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this