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09 Jun 2021, 13:23
Julian Wettengel

Germany must start fossil gas heating phase-out to avoid costs – think tank

Clean Energy Wire

Germany should immediately increase its national carbon price and better support renewables to initiate the phase-out of fossil gas in buildings heating, said think tank Green Budget Germany (FÖS). This would help avoid billions of euros in damages resulting from climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the natural gas value chain. FÖS proposed a roadmap to exit fossil gas in the buildings sector, including higher carbon prices, prices on methane emissions from natural gas, more ambitious energy efficiency rules for buildings, a ban of new gas heating systems and ending the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.

The use of natural gas in heating in Germany causes 91.5 million-107.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year when taking into account methane leakage along the supply chain, causing climate costs of about 20 billion euros in 2021, the organisation said. Emissions from gas production, processing and transport outside Germany are not counted towards the country’s climate footprint. The range of emissions is due to lack of good data on methane leakage. FÖS added that a price of 215 euros per tonne on CO2 in Germany’s national carbon emissions trading system would be necessary to cover all costs caused to society by greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting climate change, and should be reached by 2030. FÖS said it is "very likely" Germany will have enough renewables-based heat by 2030 to phase out all fossil energy sources in buildings heating.

The building sector is responsible for about 16 percent of German total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 60 percent of emissions in the sector are caused through gas heating, said FÖS. This excludes emissions from district heating which are seen as energy sector emissions. By far the most energy used in the German heating sector is for space heating, fuelled mainly by natural gas and oil. In fact, fossil fuels still keep almost three in four of all German homes warm. About 18 percent of the final energy consumption in residential buildings goes into heating water, while only about one percent is used for cooling rooms.

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