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EMEA Compressor market set to recover in line with OEM markets despite Covid-19 setback February 2021

In March 2021 BSRIA will publish the fourth report in its series on the Global market for compressors used in applications for Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, and Refrigeration. It will be part of a set of reports revealing the trends and drivers for compressor sales in the largest markets worldwide: Americas, EMEA, China, India, Japan and rest of Asia.  

This study includes compressors aimed at three key applications: Air conditioning, or comfort cooling, heat pumps for space and water heating, and refrigeration, and provides insight into changes in technologies and refrigerants. This includes stationary applications only.

With the rapid growth taking place in the residential AC market in EMEA, sales of rotary compressors are expected to surge. In addition, more suppliers of domestic AC products have set up manufacturing in Europe and the Middle East to encourage proximity with their distributors. This will strengthen the market base for both rotary and scroll compressors used in AC units.

While recent years have seen demand for smaller capacity units in EU countries, sales of splits and other AC units in the commercial sector are expected to falter, as high-street retailers suffer from the double blow of COVID-19 and the growth of e-commerce, which is set to continue.

Above a certain threshold of 250-300 kW, screw compressors are largely used in chillers. Centrifugal oil-free compressors compete with screw but their use is more limited, due to their cost premium.

Despite the impact of COVID and the lockdown imposed in EMEA countries, the heat pump market in 2020 held up remarkably well and registered growth. Heat pumps are surfing on a wave of legislation and other drivers for the decarbonisation of buildings, in particular of heating systems. 

For those heat pumps that are entirely manufactured in EMEA, this encourages the market for rotary compressors in capacities up to 10 kW, and scroll compressors in the range above. Screw compressors are also used in units sold for large industrial applications including district heating, starting at about 200 kW capacity and reaching above 2 MW.

HAC&R compressors by application, by volume (million units), 2020

Source, BSRIA

Sales vs production of HAC&R compressors by type, by volume (units), 2020 and 2023

Source, BSRIA

The refrigeration sector is a key market for compressors in EMEA, as there are several very important suppliers of refrigeration units operating in the region. It accounts for a significant share of compressors, in particular for reciprocating types. In the long run, scroll compressors are not expected to take market share from semi-hermetic reciprocating, as they are not able to handle the same breadth of applications and refrigerant types.

The refrigeration sector is going toward a general reduction of energy required for food conservation. Energy saving has been pushed by legislation in several countries, in particular the European Union, where directives such as Ecodesign and Ecolabel, which are under revision, have driven the uptake of electronic speed variation in compressor motors.

In EMEA, refrigerants are following the general trend of a shift toward alternatives with lower global warming potential, and the European Union is at the forefront of this move. While the AC industry is operating the move toward R32, which is a stopgap rather than a long-term solution, other refrigerants for large compressors operating at lower pressure include pure HFO such as R1234ze. CO2 or hydrocarbons such as propane (R290) remain limited to specific products and climates.

While the majority of the domestic HP market are still using R410A, there are more initiatives toward using propane in outdoor units for HP than in AC. In addition, the use of R1234ze in large screw units, with its large temperature range, allows for a growth in the market for commercial heat pumps.

Finally, while the domestic refrigeration market is dominated by isobutane (R600a), in commercial applications the use of R404A has faltered when HFO/HFC blends became available. While CO2 has become widespread in compressor racks for supermarkets, and propane in plug-in refrigerated display cases, it is expected that HFO blends with low GWP will benefit from the phase out of R404A.

Penetration of refrigerants by type, % of units, 2017 -  2023

Source, BSRIA


For EMEA sales enquiries, please contact BSRIA UK: E: or T:  +44 (0) 1344 465540  

For Americas sales enquiries, please contact BSRIA USA:  E: or T:  +1 312-753-6800

For China sales enquiries, please contact BSRIA China:  E: or T:  +86 10 64657707