Outdoor heater producers see record demand as Germany's restaurants prepare for pandemic winter
The outdoor heater industry in Germany is almost being overwhelmed by a surge in demand due to restaurant and bar owners scrambling to find ways of continuing their business outdoors as winter approaches, Vivien Timmler writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung. In order to enable the food service industry to run in compliance with coronavirus pandemic containment measures, several cities in Germany have allowed a return of outdoor heaters despite the often gas-fired heaters being outlawed in many cities in the last years due to their high CO2 emissions. "After a disastrous start in spring, many companies are flooded by orders," Timmler writes, adding that many companies are seeing the greatest increase in demand in their history. "We're producing as fast as we can, but we just cannot cover the high demand completely," said Matthias Herfeld, CEO of leading producer Enders. He expected sales to double compared to last year and some retailers had even increased their orders ten-fold, something that had "never been seen before”. However, contrary to earlier years, customers today often asked for heaters with lower emissions, Herfeld added. According to the German Environment Agency (UBA), more efficient heaters with emissions of about two kilograms of CO2 per hour would emit as much during a standard week as a car would on a 600 kilometre trip. CO2 compensation provider Atmosfair, which so far had excluded gas-fired outdoor heaters from their service due to their general inefficiency, said an exception in the current situation would be justified because of the importance to keep the restaurant and bar industry alive.
Calls to re-introduce the "heating mushrooms” - as patio heaters are often called in Germany due to their shape - had already come up during the summer, when the first municipalities acknowledged that it would be a necessity to support the food service industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed habits and the use of public space in Germany as much as in other countries, with factors such as lower mobility levels or decreased production leading to a significant drop in emissions.