Anyone who had taken their savings into their hands six months ago and gone to the bank with the words "I would like to make a big investment in a fan heater" would have been declared by the friendly employee to be a changing operational risk.

Fan heaters, those undemanding sweatboxes, had established themselves in their niche.

Mobile hot maker for the workshop, the caravan, the garden shed.

Not efficient but easy.

Solid heel, but no treasure.

They weren't intended for the living room or the kitchen, and certainly not to save money.

Only now everything is different.

Now the Germans are buying fan heaters like crazy because they don't trust that the gas boiler will still serve them in winter.

And because coal briquettes, wood, heat pumps and solar systems are no longer accessible anyway.

Anna Lena Niemann

Editor in the “Technology and Engine” department.

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With the fan heater boom, other supposed certainties have fizzled out.

Now the head of the FDP declares wind turbines to be "freedom energies".

The co-boss of the Greens commissions LNG terminals.

A Fridays for Future activist explains that the "extended operation" of the nuclear power plants is reasonable.

The head of Bavaria, who was still cycling through lovely landscapes in the election commercial, calls for fracking – even if not on his own doorstep.

Electricity becomes the most important currency

Our energy supply, which was a feat even without external shocks, has become even more complicated since Russia's war of aggression.

Not only does it have to manage the much-touted turning maneuver to climate neutrality by 2045 – in other words, it has to do it at all.

It should also master the stages at a faster pace in poor visibility.

The power supply has a special task.

The energy system is not expected to be fully electrified by 2045 either, but molecules will remain important because they can store energy better and are needed for industrial processes.

But electricity will be the most important currency.

Of the 3,300 terawatt hours that Germany currently has in terms of so-called primary energy, it only accounts for around 500 TWh so far.

A system that relies primarily on electricity will now work more efficiently; instead of 3,300 TWh, we may only need around 2,000 TWh by the middle of the century.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Because not even the comparatively small amount of electricity today is nearly CO2-free.

Power plants with a net nominal output of 232 gigawatts are currently feeding electricity into the German grid, 139 gigawatts of which are attributable to renewable energy systems, i.e. wind power on land and at sea, photovoltaics, hydropower or biomass.

The more they feed in, the less carbon dioxide there is in the German electricity mix.

In 2021, their share of net electricity generation, i.e. the amount that is actually fed into the grid, was 45.8 percent.

A year earlier it was 50.5 percent.

A minus that is due to measly growth rates and unfavorable weather.

It is also more problematic to supply the country's living rooms and factories with heat.

The share of renewables here is just 16.5 percent.

Even for district heating, something like the green hope next to the heat pump, as the graphic shows,

23 years to close huge gaps and turn the energy system upside down while it is still in operation, turning it from a centralized to a decentralized one.

How is that supposed to work?

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE is one of the most thorough observers and advisers of this development.

In November 2021, the ISE had published an updated study that unraveled how the mammoth task can be mastered.

So much in advance: From a technical and systemic point of view, the turnaround is feasible.

The models showed that.

"However, it requires speed at all levels and, from now on, investments almost exclusively in target-compatible technologies," write the six authors.

The details of the paths are instructive.

The scientists modeled four scenarios, each with different premises.