05 Jun 2023, 14:26
Benjamin Wehrmann

About half of German households could use district heating to decarbonise – industry

Der Spiegel

District heating could help to decarbonise up to 20 million of Germany’s roughly 43 million households, if the government introduced the right subsidies and framework conditions, the industry's lobby group AGFW has said in an article by news magazine Der Spiegel. About six million households currently use long-distance district heating but that figure could be more than tripled by 2050 to make a substantial contribution to decarbonising the heating sector, along with heat pumps and other technologies. Apartment buildings in particular, and densely populated city centres, could use district heating, AGFW said, calling the technology “the key for climate neutral cities.” District heating could be connected to all kinds of energy sources, said lobby group leader John Miller. This includes large heat pumps, geothermal energy, solar thermal energy, biomass or waste heat from industrial plants and data centres. This means thousands of households could switch to climate neutral solutions at the same time if the district heating source is adapted. Miller said strict deadlines for decarbonising the sector; for example to achieve 50 percent renewables in existing grids by 2050; would not be helpful in the current situation. “We don’t think these sweeping regulations are a good solution.” AGFW called for longer transition periods and support measures that achieve effective emissions reduction in the sector.

In the week prior the government coalition reportedly agreed on steps to improve district heating coverage. It plans to present legislation soon. Grid operators and industrial companies will be required to provide data on consumption and energy sources that are supposed to provide clarity to homeowners about whether their buildings can be connected to district heating networks, or if they need to install heat pumps or other systems to comply with decarbonisation plans.

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