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09 Feb 2021, 13:21
Kerstine Appunn

Shift to decentral heating needed to make Germany’s buildings climate neutral - industry

Clean Energy Wire

Government measures to create a climate-neutral building stock by 2050 are insufficient, the German Housing Association (GdW) and the CDU Economic Council (CDU Wirtschaftsrathave warned in a joint “Ten-Point Plan for a Socially Compatible Energy Policy in the Buildings Sector.” In the plan, they demand a paradigm shift from energy refurbishments and home insulation – which are often expensive for tenants – towards a decentralised, low CO2 building technology. This would require additional investments of 25 billion euros annually in the residential building sector, the authors say. To achieve this, income from the CO2 price on heating fuels should be re-invested into the sector to the advantage of tenants, and all investment subsidies for building improvements should be conditional on their effect on greenhouse gas emissions of the house, they suggest.

Energy minister Peter Altmaier announced on Monday that six billion euros would be used in 2021 to incentivise the modernisation of homes and heating systems and that an increase in interest in funding such refurbishments meant doubling CO2 savings to 14 million tonnes by 2030.

But Green Party MP and energy efficiency expert Julia Verlinden criticised that too much of this money was used to fund the switch to climate damaging gas-fired boilers. “We call on minister Altmaier to concentrate all subsidies on low-consumption and renewables-heated buildings,” she wrote in a press release. Renewable energy lobby group BEE commented that “heat pumps, solar thermal energy […] are technically mature and widely available” and their installation now has to become mandatory when buildings are modernised.

Germany’s buildings and heating sectors are responsible for around one-third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Energy use for heating and hot water in buildings has been stagnating in recent years. According to Germany's Climate Action Law, the entire buildings sector may only emit a maximum of 72 million tonnes of CO2 per year in 2030 - in 2018 emissions amounted to 120 million tonnes.

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