14 May 2020, 14:15
Edgar Meza

Unions, utilities and activists call for speeding up heating transition

Clean Energy Wire

A broad coalition comprising unions, utilities, and climate protection organisations in Germany is pushing for new momentum in the country’s lagging efforts to lower emissions from heating. The alliance is pushing for more green heat in local and district heating and has proposed an economic stimulus programme for green heating networks in an effort to facilitate the move of the country’s heat supply towards renewable and climate-neutral sources, the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) said. A successful heat transition urgently needs more investment in green heating networks in order to drive the switch from fossil energy sources to renewable or climate-neutral heat, according to a paper published by the VKU, energy provider association 8KU, United Services Union (ver.di), Environmental Action Germany (DUH), the EWS Schönau electricity works and the Climate Alliance Germany.

The alliance has taken aim at existing approaches, such as the government’s heat network program (Wärmenetze 4.0) and the coal phase-out draft law, as too timid for the diverse challenges of the heating transition. “The basis for a sustainable conversion of heating networks to renewable heat must be municipal heat planning,” the alliance stresses, adding that such a plan must define the steps necessary for a supply of green heat. As part of an overall support programme, the group is also calling for a reform of the country’s system of charges, levies and taxes in the energy sector. “This not only promotes sector coupling, but also brings innovation and climate protection together with the necessary impulses for the economy,” the VKU said.

Heating in Germany has taken a back seat to the Energiewende's poster child, the power sector. But the “Wärmewende”, or heating transition, has significant potential to curb emissions and is essential for Germany to reach its target of climate neutrality by 2050. Key to the transition is phasing out fossil-fuelled heating in nearly 22 million buildings, most of which also need energy efficient renovation.

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