No one-size-fits-all solution to decarbonise heating in Germany – report
Clean Energy Wire
Germany will have to employ different technologies and solutions to get the heating sector to climate neutrality, as the country’s regions have vastly varying conditions to start with, according to a report by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (IEE). “A ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution does not exist for the heating market,” said co-author Sebastian Herkel. The report, commissioned by the National Hydrogen Council, says renewables like solar and wind power, as well as district heating, solar thermal and geothermal installations, biomass and hydrogen have to be expanded. While heat pumps will be the primary decarbonisation technology in room heating, the use of hydrogen ensures the achievement of the long-term climate targets (after 2030) in industry and district heating, said the institutes. The diversity of building structures and the commercial and industrial structure, as well as the local energy infrastructures, are decisive aspects for the question of which technologies can provide the cost-optimal heating supply mix. “Every municipality, every district is different,” said Katherina Reiche, head of the national hydrogen council. A “decentralised approach” was therefore required.
Germany aims to be climate neutral by 2045, which means all sectors, including heating, have to be largely decarbonised by that time. The government parties in their coalition agreement said they aim to cover 50 percent of heating with renewables by 2030. The government also said that, as of 2024, all newly constructed heating systems be powered by 65 percent renewable energy sources.
The report assessed the situation in four different districts across Germany and then made scenario calculations with different levels of prices and availability of electricity and hydrogen. The results were mainly based on the assumptions on the cost and availability of hydrogen. Depending on whether it is cheap and abundantly available or expensive and scarce, the paths for decarbonisation diverge widely. As hydrogen is seen as a solution for many sectors, competition for the resource is expected to be big.