Heat pump demand collapses as Germany debates fossil fuel boiler phaseout
Demand for heat pumps has slumped in Germany as a fierce debate about government plans to decarbonise the heating sector unnerved many citizens. The number of subsidy applications halved in the first half of the year, according to an article in Spiegel Online. The country’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) received 48,804 applications for heat pump subsidies, compared to 97,766 in the same period last year, the Funke media group reported. The sanitation, heating and aircon industry association ZVHSK called the figures “a testimony to the enormous uncertainty that the planned heating law has triggered.”
“Our companies don't know how to give legally sound advice on how subsidies will continue. It is not surprising that consumers and companies prefer to wait and see given the current situation,” the lobby group said. According to the newspaper article, many people are not implementing energy-efficiency renovations in the current climate. The housing and real estate industry association GdW said the government’s climate targets for the building sector were becoming increasingly difficult to reach.
After years of neglect, Germany is making concrete plans to reduce emissions from heating buildings — which are directly responsible for around 15 percent of the country’s entire CO2 output. However, a draft law for a phase-out of fossil fuel-powered boilers triggered a fierce debate about the decarbonisation of this sector, with critics arguing that the investment costs for climate-friendly solutions like heat pumps will overburden homeowners and tenants. In response, the coalition government reached a hard-fought compromise by topping up subsidies and effectively postponing a broad ban on new fossil fuel heating systems from the originally planned date in 2024. The draft law will need to be approved by parliament after the current summer recess.