08 Jul 2024, 13:24
Sören Amelang

Over a third of houses in Germany’s largest cities supplied by district heating – report

Clean Energy Wire

District heating already supplies more than a third of houses in Germany’s three largest cities of Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich, according to utility E.ON. In Munich and Hamburg, the share of district heating is slightly above 36 percent, and in Berlin a little over 33 percent, E.ON said in a report on the status of the heating transition in major German cities. Among the four German cities with more than one million inhabitants, Cologne lags behind with a district heating share of around 11 percent. The city has recently unveiled plans to increase the share to about one third by 2030 in order to lower emissions, the report said.

While heat pumps supply more than 4 percent of Berlin houses, their share remains at around two percent in Hamburg, Munich and Cologne, E.ON said. The share of gas heating ranges from 36 percent in Hamburg to almost 57 percent in Cologne, and the share of oil heating from 16 percent in Munich to 23 percent in Cologne. In Berlin, Cologne, and Hamburg, between 54 and 59 percent of buildings have already undergone partial or complete renovations to increase energy efficiency. “Munich is a distant fourth with a high proportion of old buildings and 41.3 percent of partially or fully renovated buildings,” E.ON said.

Emissions from Germany’s building sector have stayed level despite efforts to decarbonise other sectors in recent years. Fossil fuel-powered heating systems are still the norm in the country’s homes, with over 80 percent of Germany’s heating demand being supplied by fossil fuel energy. Energy-efficient retrofit rates remain low overall, meaning the sector is off target in the country’s drive to reach climate neutrality by 2045. The target requires the vast majority of Germany’s 40 million homes to switch to climate-neutral heating, such as heat pumps, within 20 years. According to Germany's industry, district heating could help to decarbonise up to 20 million of the country’s roughly 43 million households. Following a highly controversial debate, Germany last year agreed to phase out fossil fuel heating systems. As part of the agreement, local authorities need to draw up plans for how they will shift to climate-neutral heating.

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Sören Amelang

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