EU is moving towards a climate neutrality goal in 2050 with heating of buildings posing a major challenge. This paper provides a deep understanding of the historical development, path dependency and current status of the EU-28 residential heat sectors to inform strategy and policy makers and to open up this black box. Data is combined for buildings, installed technologies, fuel consumption and energy supply for Member States from 1990 to 2015, to analyse the importance of large-scale infrastructures and supply chains. Primary energy supply for residential heating is mainly based on fossil fuels; 70% in 2015 with 69% imported. The building level technologies are dominated by non-condensing boilers and stoves. Primary and final energy consumption decreased in spite of an increase in the total occupied living area in most countries. Path-dependency effects are found in the residential heat supply in EU. The analysis show path-dependent trajectories are present in most Member States, especially regarding natural gas infrastructure. The period shows many options for decarbonisation are not used to the full potential, e.g., energy efficiency in buildings, district heating, heat pumps. Past experiences should be considered when developing new decarbonisation strategies in Member States and on the EU level.
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