German government settles heating row, relaxes rules on new fossil fuel systems

(Clean Energy Wire, 3 Apr 2023) Germany’s coalition government has reached an agreement over rules for the transition to climate-friendly heating, settling a months-long debate over the details of a law that would de facto ban fossil heating systems.

From next year, every newly installed heating system must be powered by at least 65 percent renewable energy "if possible". However, hydrogen-ready gas-fired boilers will be allowed, too. Following a public outcry over leaked transition plans that were criticised as too ambitious and costly, the government also agreed to an extension of transition periods and exemptions.

Germany’s traffic light coalition – formed by the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) – reached a compromise over a law that would make the switch to renewable heating mandatory. After a months-long debate over a de facto ban on the installation of new fossil fuel heating systems from 2024, the coalition agreed to allow various technologies, longer transition periods, and more compliance options to make the law “even more consumer-friendly”.

The draft bill stipulates that:

  • H2-ready gas heating systems may be installed if there is a binding investment and transformation plan for hydrogen networks. These heaters are to be operated with at least 50 percent biomethane by 2030 and with at least 65 percent hydrogen from 2035.
  • Hybrid heating systems – such as gas heating with a heat pump – and heating with at least 65 percent hydrogen will be allowed in new buildings too – previously this was only an option for existing ones.

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Clean Energy Wire, 3 Apr 2023: German government settles heating row, relaxes rules on new fossil fuel systems