Heaters: Hydrogen and biomethane not sustainable, say environmental groups

Heaters: Hydrogen and biomethane not sustainable, say environmental groups

The environmental associations WWF Germany, Naturschutzbund and Deutsche Umwelthilfe support the plan of the Federal Ministry of Economics that from January 1, 2024 only new heating systems may be installed that are operated with 65 percent renewable energies. However, they are critical of the fact that it is also planned to treat hydrogen and other “green” gases such as biomethane on an equal footing with heat pumps or heating networks.

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WWF, DUH and NABU demand that renewable heat technology that is available and technically applicable today must be prioritized. Fossil heating systems should not be declared as “renewable”, even if they are technically able to use hydrogen or biogenic gases. “Because this prevents the transformation of the heating sector and offers a gateway for the further expansion of fossil gas heating”, write the three associations in one joint claim paper (PDF).

According to the associations, because they are less efficient and less available, hydrogen and other “green” gases should not be considered a basic option for fulfilling the 65 percent requirement. Exceptional cases would have to be clearly defined and justified. In the coming years, such gases should be used in peak load power plants, industrial processes and other areas in which there are no or hardly any direct electrical alternatives. Adding hydrogen to the natural gas grid would only marginally reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hamper applications that require pure hydrogen.

However, the FDP wants to continue to operate climate-damaging oil and gas heating systems, although the exit had already been agreed in the coalition agreement, the paper says. “With their blockade attitude, the FDP is preventing the heat transition in the boiler room,” said Constantin Zerger, head of energy and climate protection at the German Environmental Aid, according to the announcement. It runs the business of the housing industry and gas industry, which wanted to block the energy transition in the heating sector.

At the end of February, a draft bill from the Federal Ministry of Economics for the reform of the Building Energy Act became known. Shortly thereafter, Habeck’s coalition partner, the FDP, announced resistance. The liberals believe that a ban on new pure gas and oil heating systems will further increase construction and rental costs. The FDP believes that the gas infrastructure can also be used in a climate-neutral manner in the future – for example via hybrid heating and the use of hydrogen. Your party leader, Christian Lindner, used the keyword “openness to technology” in this context, as he did in the political dispute over e-fuels.

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