12 Feb 2024, 13:22
Sören Amelang

German energy industry to launch district heating price comparison platform

Table.Media / mdr

Germany’s district heating companies are planning to launch a price comparison platform, following controversies over sharp and intransparent cost increases. Around 150 companies across the country will be taking part, covering “almost the entire market,” the head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), Kerstin Andreae, told the digital media company Table.Media, according to a report by newswire AFP.  "We know that there is a problem with the transparency of prices," Andreae said. She said she hoped that the service will result in lower costs for consumers, who, unlike with electricity or gas, cannot switch district heating providers. The platform should be live from April. Economy minister Robert Habeck had called for more transparent and fairer prices for district heating customers at the start of February, suggesting a comparison platform for the sector or an arbitration mechanism in cases of dispute would be helpful.

Steven Hanke, an energy and climate journalist from newsletter Tagesspiegel Background, called the initiative a “PR stunt of the district heating lobby” on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.  Around six million of the almost 42 million homes in Germany are connected to district heating, representing a share of about 15 percent, according to the association. The technology is set to become more prevalent in the future, especially in inner city districts, where many experts consider it the most viable solution for decarbonising heating. The government aims to connect 100,000 buildings to district heating per year, and the district heating industry has said about half of all German households could eventually use the technology to become climate-neutral. But researchers have warned there is a “massive financing problem” for the necessary conversions. Following the end of energy price caps at the start of the year and with a value-added tax increase, pending, some customers face more than a doubling of heating costs this year, reported regional broadcaster mdr. BDEW head Andreae encouraged consumers to defend themselves against high prices: "Anyone who believes they are paying too much can also lodge an objection," she said, adding that suppliers are bound to offer "reasonable pricing."

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