The German Environmental Aid (DUH) has raised concerns that loopholes in the upcoming heating replacement could delay the end of fossil fuel systems and cost consumers dearly. The DUH, along with other organizations, has warned that the approval of “H2-ready” devices, which are gas heaters that can be converted to hydrogen, may lead to the continuation of gas heating systems.
According to the plans of the Federal Government, gas and oil heating systems will no longer be allowed to be installed in new buildings from 2024, and existing fossil heating systems will be gradually replaced. However, the installation of gas heating systems that can be operated with hydrogen will still be allowed, provided that there is a plan for the construction of a hydrogen network for local supply.
The DUH believes that the approval and sale of “H2-ready” devices are deceiving consumers, as there may not be enough hydrogen for heating. “It is shameful how consumers are currently being misled with false promises,” said DUH Managing Director Barbara Metz. “They are the ones who end up sitting on fossil fuel heaters for a lot of money.”
The DUH is calling for the Federal Government to prioritize the heat pump in the heating exchange. The Federal Ministry of Economics expects the heat pump to be the standard solution in the future, but it has faced criticism from the FDP, which is calling for “technology openness” in replacing heating systems, including the use of H2-ready devices.
The Federal Association of the New Energy Industry also criticizes the planned approval of hydrogen-capable gas heating systems as “fraudulent labelling”. In the medium and long term, hydrogen will not be available in sufficient quantities to heat private households, and there is a risk of “massive bad investments in devices that will have to be replaced in a few years,” according to BNE Managing Director Robert Busch. The German Renewable Energy Association (BEE) shares a similar view, arguing that “what counts is the fuel actually used and not the one you intend to use at some point,” said BEE President Simone Peter.
To provide information about the possible applications of heat pumps in existing buildings and the associated costs, the DUH has published a “fact paper” with the energy consultants association GIH. The fact paper highlights that heat pumps could be installed in most buildings without full renovation, and without further measures, a heat pump could be installed in half of the buildings.
The debate surrounding the heating replacement plan continues, with different organizations calling for different solutions. However, it is evident that the transition away from fossil fuel heating systems will require careful planning and consideration of the available technologies and resources.