German heating law: watered down but end goal unchanged

12 Sep 2023

Photo: Shutterstock
Pipes for district heating being laid. Photo: Shutterstock

After weeks of negotiations, Germany’s parliament has approved legislation for the replacement of fossil-fuel heating systems.  

The final deal is weaker than the original proposal, which would have ended fossil fuel boilers as of 2024, allowing only new heaters running on at least 65% renewables.  

Thomas Nowak, secretary general of EHPA commented:  
“After two months of wrangling, the most important point of a finalised German heating law is more political stability. While the exemptions and delays may weaken the impact, the overall direction has been maintained: Germany’s buildings will heat with renewable energy in the near future. 

“Bolstering this message by a significant support package leaves me hopeful that end-users will take the fast track in this direction and not use watered down and unclear fulfilment options to delay change, “ he added.  

In the new agreement, newly installed heating systems in new housing developments will have to run on at least 65% renewable energy from January 2024. 

New homes in housing areas which are already built will have to meet the 65% target after 2026 or 2028, depending on the size of the town they are in. What’s more, local authorities will have to come up with a district heat plan by the same deadline. Until then, fossil fuel boilers can still be installed, providing the owner attends an information session on the risks.  

Older homes which have a fossil fuel boiler have no requirement to replace it providing it still works.  

The agreement provides additional subsidies and builds in extra exceptions for the elderly and those on low incomes. 

By 2045, when Germany aims for net zero emissions of greenhouse gases, all heating systems must be switched to renewable energy sources. 

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