An alliance of environmentalists, trade unionists, and trade associations has come together to voice their concerns over the installation of hydrogen-capable gas heaters.
In an open letter addressed to members of the Bundestag, the signatories argue for the abolition of the Building Energy Act, which allows for the installation of such heaters. The letter emphasizes the urgent need to address the climate crisis and criticizes the reliance on what they consider to be inadequate solutions that would continue the use of natural gas for heating.
According to the Federal Government’s plans, gas heating systems will no longer be permitted for installation starting next year, except for those that can operate with climate-neutral hydrogen. However, the signatories view this exception as a mere facade and raise concerns about the high costs and risks associated with the installation of gas heating systems in the hope of eventually transitioning to hydrogen.
The associations argue that converting natural gas networks to pure hydrogen is not practical for the entire building sector. They highlight that even beyond 2030, hydrogen production will remain limited and expensive. Even if grid conversion succeeds in certain areas, consumers may face exorbitant operating costs.
The draft of the Building Energy Act, which includes the exception for hydrogen heaters, was approved by the Federal Cabinet in mid-April. This exception was largely influenced by the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which advocates for “technology openness.” In the parliamentary process, the FDP is pushing for further changes, such as extended deadlines for the expansion of hydrogen networks.
The debate surrounding hydrogen-capable gas heaters reflects the broader discussions on the role of hydrogen in the energy transition. While hydrogen is considered a promising energy carrier for decarbonization, concerns about its practicality, cost-effectiveness, and scalability persist. Balancing the need for immediate action against the long-term vision for a sustainable energy system is a challenge that requires careful consideration of various factors.