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09 Mar 2021, 13:24
Julian Wettengel

Must step up renewables expansion, also in heating sector – Merkel

Clean Energy Wire

Germany must step up renewables expansion and put a focus on the heating sector, where the majority of energy is still produced with fossil fuels, said Chancellor Angela Merkel at municipal utilities event VKU-Verbandstagung. The renewables share of 46 percent in power consumption in 2020 was “remarkable”, but looking at 2030 this was not yet enough. “We are phasing out nuclear energy and coal power step-by-step and must further expand the path for renewable energies,” said Merkel. Aside from electricity, the chancellor singled out heating as a key focus. More than half of total energy consumption in Germany was for process, room and water heating, and 80 percent of this came from fossil fuels. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us to build and expand heating grids, which can then be supplied with renewable energy,” said Merkel, and added that hydrogen – “aside from the bridging technology natural gas” – could be a climate-friendly alternative in the sector. “With new infrastructure, hydrogen technologies could be versatile, in heating, but also in mobility and later in industry production,” said Merkel. 

Hydrogen is increasingly seen as an important technology to decarbonise key areas of the economy, but also a scarce resource that should be used only where necessary. The economy ministry recently published an impulse paper in which it said hydrogen would only play a minor role in decentral heating supply, might be used in certain situations in combined heat and power (CHP) facilities, but will likely play a much bigger role in industry and transport.

The government coalition is currently in talks over increasing 2030 renewables targets and aims to make a decision by the end of March – based on an updated assessment of future power needs. At the VKU conference, economy minister Peter Altmaier re-iterated he is “ready to push the expansion of renewable energies a good bit further,” but only if the cost for this is financed through the federal budget. The renewables levy – paid by power consumers and used to finance the expansion until now – should be phased out, said Altmaier.

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