Warmth turnaround: the hottest topic of winter

When winter stays as it began, it will be expensive in the end. The prices for gas and oil are already huge and will continue to rise, for reasons of climate protection alone. So heating has what it takes to become this winter’s hottest topic, apart from Omikron. This makes a real heat turnaround all the more urgent, saying goodbye to oil and gas for heating.

Andreas Frey

Freelance writer in the science of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

After decades of hesitation and sitting out, the topic now finally seems to have arrived in Berlin. The new federal government wants to promote the switch to climate-neutral heating, the traffic light announced in its coalition agreement. Heating has to go green, everyone agrees on that. Only the how has the new federal government left open. Around eighty percent of all heating systems in Germany are currently fired with oil and gas. A third of the energy consumption is used for heating, and the country wants to become climate neutral by 2045. This is what the Climate Protection Act says. Carbon dioxide emissions in the heating sector must therefore be halved in less than a decade in order to achieve the climate targets. This corresponds to a tripling of the previous speed. “The pressure to act is enormous,” says Alexandra Langenheld from Agora Energiewende, a non-profit GmbH and think tank on energy policy. The former federal government has neglected the issue, says the expert and calls for an immediate program for the heating transition, electricity should also become cheaper. So far, however, only the end of gas and oil boilers in new buildings from 2025 has actually been decided.

The immediate program as envisaged by Agora Energiewende is based on three components. The first concerns the renovation and insulation of existing buildings. This should be significantly accelerated in the future, the energy demand should decrease, because the less heat a house loses, the less heating energy has to be generated. That sounds easier than it is: two thirds of all buildings were constructed before 1979 and are rarely insulated. The second component revolves around the heating technology of the future, the so-called heat pump. Six million of these are to be installed by 2030, is the ambitious goal of Agora Energiewende. The industry has only just celebrated the one million heat pump mark – it took more than twenty years to do so. Ultimately, more houses are to be connected to district heating lines that provide waste heat from industrial processes in a climate-neutral manner. Nobody should heat with oil or gas anymore.

Conflict potential: The heating turnaround interferes with the private sphere

The conversion of the heat supply is a mammoth task. In contrast, the energy transition, which is above all a power transition, seems like a no brainer. This is not only supported by the enormous costs of the transformation, but above all by the potential for conflict of the renovation: The heating turnaround intervenes in the private sphere, in the around twenty million buildings that are inhabited and used in Germany. It’s not about new wind turbines on the hill, but about new heating systems in your own house. “Every house has to be touched,” say energy experts when they talk about the heating transition. And one should not underestimate the rationale behind this formulation.


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