16 May 2023, 13:43
Jessica Bateman

Heat pump installation plans may overburden Germany’s grid - energy industry

Germany’s electricity grid may struggle to cope with the millions of heat pumps planned for installation around the country, experts have warned. The government is aiming to connect 500,000 heat pumps to the grid every year from 2024 onwards, with a total of six million set to be installed by 2030. According to business daily Handelsblatt, multiple industry figures believe the national grid may need to be massively expanded if it is to accommodate this extra load. Florian Bieberbach, head of municipal utility Stadtwerke München, told the paper that on cold days the pumps will represent “a double whammy” for the grid, as they will need to produce a lot of heat while running inefficiently, leading to potential overload. Johannes Wagner of the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI) said the pumps may increase the peak load in Germany by up to ten gigawatts. As it stands, he believes this extra energy could only be supplied by new gas-fired power plants – which are not currently being built.

The electrification of the heating sector and wider use of heat pumps are seen as key elements in making German homes more energy efficient and helping the country meet its climate targets. At present, the majority of German homes still use fossil fuel heating systems. The government has agreed on a transition plan, but the draft law remains controversial and is set to be amended in parliament.

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