20 Feb 2024, 13:46
Benjamin Wehrmann

Record sales of new heating systems in Germany led by gas-based units

Clean Energy Wire / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Sales of new heating systems reached record level in Germany in 2023, with more than 1.3 million systems sold, the Federation of German Heating Industry (BDH) said. Purchases of new heating systems grew 34 percent compared to the previous year. However, contrary to the government’s goal of tackling heating sector emissions, the share of fossil gas and oil heating systems rose from 66 percent in 2022 to 70 percent one year later. Sales of natural gas-based heating systems grew 32 percent to 790,600 units, thus accounting for 60 percent of all new purchases. Oil heating systems sales doubled to 112,500 units compared to the previous year. Sales of low-carbon heat pumps also grew considerably to 356,000 units, about 51 percent more than in the year before and 27 percent of all sales in 2023. Purchases of renewable biomass heating systems fell by 44 percent to 49,500 units sold.

According to the BDH, the record sales in 2023 were driven by one-off effects such as the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine, which had spurred heat pump sales especially in the first half of the year over fears of a gas shortage in the country, which considerably waned by the end of the year. In the second half of the year, a noisy debate over banning sales of new fossil heating systems instead had led to a spike in demand for modernising existing gas and oil-based systems. At the same time, the persisting slump in Germany’s construction sector kept the sales of heating system components in check, the BDH added. It estimated that the new and more efficient systems sold last year contributed CO2 emissions savings of about 3 million tonnes annually.

In order to bring market trends in line with decarbonisation targets again, the industry group urged the government to reconsider cuts it had made to the support of efficiency and climate-friendly heating system modernisation in the context of the current budget crisis. The loss of billions of euros earmarked for the country’s Climate and Transformation Fund after a seminal court ruling in November last year had led the government coalition of chancellor Olaf Scholz to cut or shrink a wide range of support programmes in order to ensure the country does not violate its constitutionally enshrined limit on new debt. However, BDH head Markus Staudt said the government’s Building Energy Law decided last year at last had brought greater planning security for the sector. “Now is the right time for people to consider a heating modernisation and support the transition in their own homes,” Staudt argued. The government should lead a resolute information campaign that encourages citizens to participate and demonstrate all the options on the table for decarbonising heating, the lobby group head said.

The government aims to bring heat pumps sales to 500,000 units in 2024. However, the German Heat Pump Association (BWP) estimates that this goal will be missed by a wide margin. The lobby group told newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung it expects about 260,000 new heat pumps will be sold this year, more than a quarter less than in the year before. Yet, the BWP did not rule out that the target of having 6 million units in operation by 2030 can be met.

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