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Germany hints at end to fossil fuel heating support

17 Feb 2017 16:22 GMT
Germany hints at end to fossil fuel heating support

London, 17 February (Argus) — Germany will end support for fossil fuel heating systems at some point in the future, new economy and energy minister Brigitte Zypries said yesterday at a conference hosted by renewable energy association BEE.

A phase-out of government support for systems such as natural gas heating would pave the way for a higher share of electricity in the heating sector.

Zypries did not detail when subsidies for fossil fuel heating units could end. "It is our plan, at least, to end support for contested heating units in the future," she said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet passed the government's 2050 climate action programme at the end of last year, setting out its strategy to meet Germany's ambitious post-2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

A draft version of the roadmap included a pledge to ban the installation of new gas heating systems beyond 2030. But the measure was shelved in the final document, with the government seemingly reassuring the gas industry that natural gas heating will continue to play a role as Germany decarbonises its economy.

But Zypries' comments yesterday hint that the government continues to favour a strategy of increasing the share of electricity in the heating sector. So-called sector coupling between power and heating and between the power and transport sectors is one of Berlin's key decarbonisation strategies as the country plans to continue to increase its wind and solar power capacity.

Germany this year introduced auctions for new onshore wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar installations with a capacity of more than 750kW. Auction volumes for onshore wind capacity are at 2.8 GW/yr in 2017-19 and 2.9 GW/yr from 2020, on a gross basis, and at 600 MW/yr for PV installations. But the government will revise auction volumes higher if Germany advances the coupling of the power industry with the transport and heating sectors, junior energy minister Rainer Baake said at an industry event last week.

Zypries yesterday pledged support for so-called tenant power. Legislation supporting tenant power will be introduced to and passed by the German parliament before the summer break, after which Germany will hold general elections on 24 September, Zypries said.

The economy and energy ministry in January presented a government-commissioned study that put the potential for tenant PV power generation at up to 14 TWh/yr.

The study looked into the potential of and challenges for PV installations installed in rented accommodation. In a scenario involving a modest increase in PV installations on rented buildings, PV power generation would increase by just 0.48TWh , the study concluded.