Cheaper heating and cooling using innovative heat pumps

Part of Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

Unlocking the potential for a user-friendly, cost-effective heating and cooling

What is the aim of this project?

The SunHorizon project aims to unlock the potential for a user-friendly, cost-effective heating and cooling solution for residential and public-sector buildings. It combines heat pumps and solar appliances – among the most installed residential renewable energy systems – with thermal storage to form Technology Packages controlled by innovative software.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

Solar panels collect sunlight and turn it into electricity. Heat pumps are electrical devices that extract heat from one place and transfer it to another using a compressor pump and conductor coil. This project will connect advanced solar panels and heat pumps within homes and buildings to maximise consumers’ use of solar energy that they generate themselves and to guarantee indoor comfort. The project will also develop software tools that reduce operating and capital costs by maximising harvested solar energy and optimising the design of new installations.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • saves primary energy
  • lowers energy bills
  • reduces fossil fuel dependency
  • increases energy reliability in buildings 

At what stage of development is this project?

The project was launched in November 2018 and is expected to run until September 2022. The sizing and layout of the Technology Packages is now defined and eight demonstration sites are preparing all the necessary steps for installation, which will be finalised in 2021

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • making heat pump subsidies and incentives contingent upon integration of photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) and solar thermal plus photovoltaic technology (ST+PV).
  • advancing the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) heating and cooling policy at EU level.

Solar and heat pump technologies. Source: SunHorizon project, GA 818329

Partners and funders


A consortium of 21 partners including research institutions, industrial companies, and public organisations.


HORIZON 2020 Research and Innovation Program (under Grant Agreement N. 818329)

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About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC TCP)

The SHC TCP was established in 1977 to promote the use of all aspects of solar thermal energy. The SHC TCP’s work is accomplished through the international collaborative effort of experts from countries, industry and the European Union.