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Residential buildings in Cologne: Heat demand completely unclear

Photo: C. Hardt / Future Image / IMAGO

After controversial discussions about the new Building Energy Act (GEG), Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) and Federal Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz (SPD) have presented another law for the heat transition that complements the GEG in an important step. The most important point in this is the collection of information in order to be able to better monitor the heat demand of buildings. This information is essential for the planning and expansion of heating networks – also known as municipal heat planning. The project bears the unwieldy name "Act for Heat Planning and Decarbonization of Heating Networks". The draft has been submitted to SPIEGEL.

The draft dates back to the beginning of May and provides for Berlin to oblige the states to carry out heat planning – which will then pass it on to the municipalities. For apartment and house owners who need to replace a defective heating system, heat planning offers an important basis for decision-making on the question of which new technology is suitable. If, for example, the expansion of the district heating network in the street is planned, then it makes sense to also choose a district heating connection, as provided for in the GEG. The same applies if, for example, an energy supplier plans to offer gas from renewable sources in this residential area. The GEG also provides for this as an option for climate-friendly heating.

In order to create the basis for heat planning, the municipalities should therefore collect certain data: This includes the actual annual final energy consumption of the individual buildings in the past three years, the type of heating system, along with heating capacity, year of commissioning – and other data on the building itself. In addition, information on existing or already planned heat, gas, electricity and wastewater networks will be collected. Municipalities should also be able to use data from building registers, land registers, cadastral offices and energy certificates within the legally permissible framework.

Data should provide a basis for planning

As a rule, these are all facts that the property owners also know. If the draft were to become law, they would have to reckon with corresponding questionnaires. However, it is not yet possible to predict the cost of answering, because energy suppliers or chimney sweeps could also provide information, but above all the grid operators. In any case, additional costs for citizens should be avoided.

On the basis of the collected data, the planning will then take place, which will also include the construction of district heating networks. According to the draft, such heat plans for large cities with 2026,100 or more inhabitants are to become mandatory nationwide by 000, while smaller cities and districts are to be given two years longer. Municipalities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants are exempt. In many federal states, there are already corresponding laws.

By 2045, Germany must become climate-neutral, i.e. it must no longer emit any net greenhouse gases. As a consequence, this means that the heating systems used in Germany must no longer cause greenhouse gases, as is the case, for example, with the use of oil and gas.

The GEG draft therefore provides for the switch to heat pumps, but also to district or local heating networks. The traffic light coalition had already decided on their expansion in the coalition agreement. They are also to be converted to renewable energy sources – the draft provides for a share of 2030 percent by 50. The municipal heat planning is now to be supplemented by the GEG.

In principle, there is a consensus in the traffic light coalition that heat planning will take place as quickly as possible, preferably before the GEG comes into force. The FDP, however, is still opposed to the amendment of the law on municipal heat planning because it rejects the obligation of the municipalities. However, as with the GEG, the goal of the coalition partners is still to have it adopted by the cabinet before the summer break at the beginning of July.