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19 Jun 2020, 14:14
Benjamin Wehrmann

Researchers doubt Germany's new building energy act is breakthrough for heating transition

Clean Energy Wire

Germany's new building energy act will greatly increase the use of renewable energies in buildings, economy minister Peter Altmaier has said. The law, which had been debated since 2017 and was adopted on 18 June, combines legislation on efficiency with renewable energy rules in the heating sector, and supplements the country's long-term renovation strategy required by EU regulation to improve the European buildings sector's climate record.

But climate policy research institute IKEM said despite the long time spent on drafting the new rules, lawmakers had failed to deliver a breakthrough in the heating sector's energy transition. "That's a pity, because the EU and Germany's Climate Action Law both have already been more progressive in this respect," said IKEM head Simon Schäfer-Stradowsky. According to the research institute, a major flaw of the new law lies in allowing the offset of renewable energy generation in the heating sector with insulation measures that merely affect energy consumption. "This is not in the spirit of ambitious climate action goals. Energy consumption reduction and decarbonisation must not be pinned against each other," Schäfer-Stradowsky said. He further criticised the fact that renewable power installations will only be made mandatory for new buildings, as most emissions stem from older buildings. "Whether this law leads to more climate action in the buildings sector will now depend entirely on newly constructed buildings," the IKEM head said.

Kerstin Andreae, head of energy industry group BDEW, said the law will provide an "important foundation" for climate action in the buildings sector but lacks impulses for innovation. She welcomed the fact that it will become easier to use biogas for heating and praised new rules for combined-heat-and-power installation, but criticised that the use of green hydrogen, for which the BDEW had lobbied, "only received very modest attention.”

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