Germany presents energy efficiency ‘work plan’ to reduce fossil fuel demand

“We are currently pulling out all the stops to become less dependent on Russian energy,” said economy minister Robert Habeck. [EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER]

Amid growing pressure to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, the government presented plans on Tuesday (17 May) to save more energy, reports Clean Energy Wire.

The “work plan” offers a catalogue of measures that includes financial incentives, targeted support and regulatory adjustments in order to boost energy conservation.

“We are currently pulling out all the stops to become less dependent on Russian energy,” said economy minister and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, who reiterated previous calls on citizens to reduce their energy use.

“As important as it is to find alternative sources of supply for gas in the short term and to build the infrastructure for this, the cheapest and most efficient contribution to greater independence is lower energy consumption,” he said.

The plan includes funding and incentives to promote more energy efficient standards in heating and building and the discontinuation of subsidies for gas heating and construction projects that do not meet the new Efficiency House 40 standard.

The renovation of buildings with the lowest energy performance is seen as holding the greatest potential for saving energy and related greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, solar roofs are to become the standard in order to quickly increase renewable power generation.

The building sector has been slow to reduce its carbon footprint in recent years, but the recent surge in energy costs has made energy-efficiency renovation of residential buildings more cost-effective than ever, according to a recent report.

500,000 heat pumps per year

While the German government will make heat pumps mandatory as early as 2024, the new work programme aims to redirect skilled labour into the field.

A new “Heat pump build-up programme” aims to incentivise workers and companies in the building sector to participate in upskilling programmes. The building sector will also be incentivised to direct more resources into heating renovations, with a focus on the installation of heat pumps.

The government’s objective is to have “more than 500,000” heat pumps installed every year until 2024 and 800,000 per year afterwards, when heat pumps become mandatory.

Germany’s ‘summer package’ to focus on heating sector revamp

Germany will seek to shake off its dependency on Russian gas with a new heating strategy focusing on district solutions and a mandate to make heat pumps mandatory as of 2024.

Industrial heat switch

The German government also wants to fast-track energy efficiency measures and the move away from fossil fuels in industry.

The existing subsidy pot for energy and resource efficiency, which supports industry investments into renewables or energy efficiency with up to €15 million, will be revamped in 2022, the ministry for climate and economy said.

Production of industrial heat, which tends to be produced with fossil gas, will be the focus of the revamp, with the ministry citing deep geothermal plants as a viable alternative to gas-based industrial heat.

Heating neglected in EU plan to ditch Russian fossil fuels, industry says

The European Commission is due to table plans on Wednesday (18 May) to break free from Russian fossil fuels but, apart from a renewed push for heat pumps, there are major oversights when it comes to decarbonising heating and cooling, according to industry representatives.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon. Clean Energy Wire’s Edgar Meza contributed reporting]

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