The federal government has passed an amendment to the Building Energy Act. Among other things, it stipulates that from January 1, 2024, every newly installed heating system must use at least 65 percent renewable energy. The law is now making its way through the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
Existing heating systems can continue to be used, and repairs are still possible, according to the draft law (PDF). Fossil fuels may be used in heaters until December 31, 2044.
In order to meet the obligation to use at least 65 percent renewable energies, owners can either use an individual solution and provide mathematical proof of the proportion of renewable energies or choose between the legally stipulated flat-rate options. This can be a connection to a heating network, electric heat pump, direct electricity heating, hybrid heating (combination of renewable heating and gas or oil boiler) or solar thermal heating. Under certain conditions, gas heaters that can be completely converted to hydrogen are also possible.
A transitional period of three years is to be introduced for existing fossil fuel-powered heating systems that cannot be repaired (heating failure), and up to 13 years for gas floor heating systems. A fossil-fired heating system can therefore be installed temporarily; it could also be a used heater. If a connection to a heating network is foreseeable, transitional periods of up to ten years apply. Owners who have reached the age of 80 and who live in a building or apartment themselves should not have to switch to renewable heating in the event of an accident.
In individual cases, it can be checked whether the investments for a new heating system are in reasonable relation to the yield and the value of the building. There should be financial support for switching to heating with renewables in the form of grants, loans or the existing options for tax credits.
criticism of the draft law
The planned change in the law caused unrest at the end of February, among others in the governing coalition and among homeowners. Now the German Association of Cities is calling for improvements. He thinks the deadlines are too tight. Heat pumps are a good option for new builds. But many old houses need new windows, insulated facades and roofs or underfloor heating. In addition, the electricity prices would have to be affordable in order to be able to operate the new heating systems cheaply. All of this would take more time than the government wants to allow.
The specification that from 2025 every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy comes from the coalition agreement. In view of climate change, it is necessary to change course in this area. According to the explanatory memorandum to the law, more than 80 percent of the heat demand has so far been covered by burning fossil fuels.
Over 40 percent of the natural gas consumed in Germany is burned to heat buildings and provide hot water. Almost half of the approximately 41 million households in Germany heat with natural gas, followed by heating oil with almost 25 percent and district heating with a good 14 percent. Direct electricity heating and heat pumps each account for almost 3 percent. Firing systems for solid fuels such as wood, wood pellets, other biomass and coal account for the remaining 6 percent. Of the newly installed heating systems, gas heating systems accounted for around 70 percent in 2021.