Energy: What next for the heating law?

Next step in the heating law: On Friday, the coalition factions submitted amendments to the original draft law to the Bundestag.

Energy: What next for the heating law?

Next step in the heating law: On Friday, the coalition factions submitted amendments to the original draft law to the Bundestag. Another hearing is planned for Monday in the Climate and Energy Committee. There has been strong criticism of the tight schedule from the opposition, which the traffic light rejects. After a long struggle, the law is to be passed by the Bundestag in the coming week.

SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed on extensive changes. The FDP in particular had demanded improvements. FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr told the German Press Agency that a practicable law would be introduced that would not overwhelm anyone. "With the new version, we are implementing what the coalition has agreed politically: no bans, no encroachments on property - but lots of technologies instead."

The SPD parliamentary group deputies Verena Hubertz and Matthias Miersch told the dpa: "We have succeeded in making changes to the proposals of the relevant ministries." Climate protection and social balance now go hand in hand. The Greens parliamentary group deputies Julia Verlinden and Andreas Audretsch explained that the law is a milestone for climate protection and can be planned and is reliable for all heating system owners.

More climate protection

In essence, the Building Energy Act (GEG) - the so-called Heating Act - provides that in future only heating systems that can be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energies may be installed. However, there are transitional periods for this, above all by linking the GEG to municipal heat planning. Functioning heaters can continue to be operated without restrictions and repaired if necessary. The law aims to advance climate protection in the building sector. At present, natural gas and heating oil are often still used for heating.

More time through municipal heating planning: From 2024 onwards, the regulations of the GEG will only apply directly to new building areas. A high proportion of heat pumps in particular is already installed in such systems. In the case of existing buildings, the focal point should be mandatory and comprehensive municipal heat planning. This should be available in municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants from 2026 and for the remaining municipalities from 2028.

In some municipalities there is already such a heating plan. So the question is: where does a local and district heating network make sense, where are solutions such as heat pumps more likely, where does a conversion from a gas to a hydrogen network occur? States and municipalities should submit concrete plans on how they want to convert their heating infrastructure in a climate-friendly way - for example, whether there is a district heating network. On this basis, homeowners should be able to decide what to do.

technology openness

The FDP in particular insisted on this. The 65 percent target can be achieved with many options - in addition to a heat pump, for example, direct electricity heating, hybrid heating or heating based on biomass such as wood and pellets. Anyone who wants to install a gas heating system after January 1, 2024 should receive mandatory advice beforehand to point out a possible "cost trap" - because fossil fuels are becoming more expensive with the rising CO2 price. After the transition period - i.e. when a heating plan is submitted - certain requirements apply.

Social balance

The state wants to support the heat transition with billions. It is planned that, under certain conditions, up to 70 percent of the investment will be covered when purchasing a more climate-friendly heating system.

Tenant protection

Landlords should be given incentives to invest in climate-friendly heating. Tenants should be protected from sharply rising rents. A new modernization levy is to be introduced through which landlords can pass on investment costs for the heating replacement to tenants. However, there should be a cap on rent increases.

FDP parliamentary group leader Christoph Meyer emphasized that the paper was the basis for the public hearing on Monday. But: "It is not a decision by the parliamentary groups and the GEG is not final. The formal decisions of the coalition parliamentary groups will not be made until Tuesday."

The climate and energy policy spokesman for the Union faction, Andreas Jung (CDU), told the dpa: "A weekend for MPs and experts to read and evaluate 110 pages, that can't work, that's not a serious process." He called for the vote to be taken off the Bundestag agenda for the coming week. Jung also complained that there is still no detailed funding concept. "The decisive question of the citizens is: What financially do I have to face and what support do I get?". The uncertainty will continue.