22 Mar 2024, 13:19
Sören Amelang

NGOs warn mayors against falling prey to gas industry lobbying for hydrogen heating

Clean Energy Wire

More than 200 climate and energy organisations have warned German municipalities against falling prey to gas industry lobbying for including hydrogen in their obligatory local plans for the shift to climate neutral heating. “Hydrogen is inefficient, unlikely to be available in large amounts, and will therefore remain expensive in the medium and long term,” they argue in an open letter sent to the mayors of the country’s more than 10,000 municipalities. “Including hydrogen in heating plans is therefore a cost trap for municipalities and their citizens. In addition, hydrogen in heat planning jeopardises the national climate targets.” The letter points to a meta review of studies showing that hydrogen is not suitable for use in heating, because it would require four to six times more energy than using much more efficient heat pumps instead.

The German government last year agreed a highly controversial plan for the phase-out of fossil fuel heating, which obliges municipalities to present a plan for the transition to climate neutral heating in their jurisdiction, which can include an expansion of district heating, for example. Large cities have until 2026 to table these plans, while small towns have a later deadline of 2028. In existing buildings and new buildings outside of new development areas, new oil and gas heating systems can continue to be installed until the respective municipality has published a plan.

“While the scientific consensus is that hydrogen is unsuitable for heating buildings […] the gas lobby is promoting the widespread use of hydrogen in heating supply. This is based on just four studies, all of which were commissioned or financed by the gas industry itself,” the letter reads. It points to hydrogen heating lobby initiatives like H2vorOrt and H2kommunal that hope to win over municipal utilities and administrations. “If local authorities opt for hydrogen, the gas industry benefits because it can continue to sell natural gas for a very long time and also make potentially high profits with expensive hydrogen,” the letter warns.

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