Amendment of the Building Energy Act

The German Federal Cabinet has passed the amendment to the Building Energy Act (GEG). In the process, the “65 % obligation” to use renewable energies is intended to finally seriously address the heat transition in the building stock. This means that from 1 January 2024, “as far as possible, every newly installed heating system must be powered by at least 65 percent renewable energies.”

Under the heading of “technology openness”, heating with hydrogen was discussed in advance and is now being discussed a lot. The law contains an avoidable loophole that allows the continued use of natural gas: For this, a transformation plan of the respective gas distribution network operator must be available, which shows a “binding, complete conversion of the supply of its customers to hydrogen by the year 2034”.

It is interesting how technology openness is defined in this context: a technology that does not yet exist (H2-ready heating systems that can use 100% hydrogen) with an energy carrier (hydrogen) that is not yet available and uncertainty about what customers would have to pay for it from 2034 if it were ever available. As a gas distribution network operator, it is virtually obligatory to draw up a transformation plan now, purely out of a sense of commercial duty of care, so that nothing changes for the time being and heating can continue to be provided with gas. Clear framework conditions for the grid operators and industry would be more helpful for the heating market and the necessary conversion of the business models of the municipal utilities.

We always approach our system analyses for scenario modelling of the building sector and also our projects for municipal heating planning with an open-minded approach to technology. But if the results clearly show that hydrogen in the building sector is by far the most expensive option for the building sector from the point of view of the municipal utilities, from the point of view of the building owners and from the point of view of the economy as a whole, with the highest uncertainty for a possible implementation, then the question arises as to why this is part of the solution space in the Building Energy Act.

How do you see it?