Yesterday's talk show "Anne Will" was about heaters, and you, Mr. Dürr, were a guest again. The question was whether Economics Minister Robert Habeck was asking too much of the Germans because he required that all new heating systems from 2024 be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energy. You, Mr. Dürr, obviously thought: Anyone can heat and therefore have a say – and accepted the invitation. Then you started chatting away in your unmistakable "we-have-to-be-honest-now" tone and advocated "technology openness". And when things didn't go the way you wanted, you asked for a fact check.
We'll deliver that at this point, because right at the beginning of the show you shot an absurd statement into the airwaves that made me ask: Does Herr Dürr actually know what he's talking about? First of all, you rightly pointed out that the fossil share in the electricity mix had increased because of the Russian war of aggression, because more coal-fired power plants were connected to the grid (nevertheless, the share of green electricity is still around 50 percent). But then it shot out of you: "If you are currently installing a heat pump, then it will not be able to run with 65 percent renewables via the electricity grid, because that much is not there. We have to be honest about that."
That claim is, with all due respect, coke. Hence my offer to briefly explain how a heat pump works. Basically, it works like your fridge at home, only in reverse. The refrigerator extracts heat from the goods inside and dissipates it into the environment. The heat pump extracts climate-neutral heat from the environment (air, ground, groundwater) and feeds it into the heating water. Technically, this usually works by evaporating, condensing, compressing and expanding - but as an economist you don't have to be interested in these technical details.
The important thing is that you have to start the process with electricity, so to speak, and in the end you get a lot back in the form of heat energy for a cozy, warm home. In modern systems, one kilowatt hour of electricity produces four kilowatt hours of heat from the ambient heat, with the latest models it is even five kilowatt hours. This factor is called the "annual performance factor". In other words: Even if the electricity came exclusively from coal-fired power plants, the heat supply in everyday operation would be 75 percent or more climate-neutral.
When I listen to you, Mr. Dürr (and there is often the opportunity because of your frequent television presence), I sometimes ask myself: why does the FDP, which likes to behave in a forward-looking manner, appear so despondent in you, almost yesterday? Henry Ford, who was able to replace the carriage with the car, said: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said: faster horses." In a figurative sense, you always want faster horses instead of cars. This was not only evident with the heat pump, but also with your use yesterday for artificial fuel, called e-fuels. They even stated that the world's automobile manufacturers are counting on it - although almost all of them are currently aligning their future with the much more efficient, environmentally friendly battery drive.
We are all living in a critical phase in which we humans have to learn to rethink in order to reduce the human contribution to climate change. There are very good technical possibilities to create this. Uncertainty through steam chatter in popular talk shows is not helpful. You will be familiar with the quote from the late Roman scholar Boëthius: "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." In English: "If you had kept silent, you would have remained a philosopher."