Germany: Government aims for 65 percent renewable energies in heating systems

The German government is planning an amendment to the current Building Energy Act. Among other things, it is planned that new heating systems must use 65 percent renewable energies with immediate effect. How will it impact the homes using liquid heating fuel?

The building sector plays a decisive role in Germany - as in many European countries - when it comes to achieving climate targets. Around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to this sector. In 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings still accounted for 210 million tonnes of CO2. Thanks to energy-efficient new buildings and modernisations, emissions in the sector fell to around 120 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020. By 2030, they are to be further reduced to 67 million tonnes of CO2 and by 2045, this sector, like all others, is to be climate neutral. To achieve this, the government is planning an amendment to the current Building Energy Act. Among other things, it is planned that new heating systems must use 65 percent renewable energies with immediate effect.


Heat transition with CO2-neutral energies and increased efficiency

The application technology itself is not the decisive challenge, because the climate-relevant emissions come from the energy sources - from the current electricity mix as well as from fuels that are still predominantly fossil today, that is the view of en2x – German Association for Fuels and Energy. It is therefore essential that these heating energy sources become CO2-neutral. Nevertheless, at the same time, increases in efficiency and hybridisation are necessary to significantly reduce fuel demand. This is because alternative heating energies will not be available in the quantities that fossil products are today.

en2x is convinced that alternative fuels, be they biomass-, waste-, residue- or electricity-based, can make important contributions to achieving the CO2 reduction targets in the heating sector. In perspective, these fuels must play a far greater role than first-generation biofuels from cultivated biomass. en2x therefore fundamentally welcomes the strengthening and expansion of alternative fulfilment options so as not to jeopardise the achievement of the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target.

en2x e fuels

Immediate climate protection programme: 65 percent renewables from 2024 can only be realised with a technology neutral approach

Against the background of the missed CO2 reduction targets in the heating market and the energy crisis resulting from the Ukraine war, the target of using 65 percent renewable energies for heating is now to be brought forward. The German government's immediate climate protection programme stipulates that from January 2024, every newly installed heating system is to be powered by 65 percent renewable energies. This target is an essential step on the way to a climate-neutral building stock up to 2045, by which time the use of fossil fuels in buildings is to be completely phased out in Germany.

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection and the Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Building presented an implementation concept for new and existing buildings in July 2022. After the current consultation phase, this regulation is to be enshrined in an amendment to the Building Energy Act (GEG). The proposal from the ministries essentially focuses on three technologies: building insulation, local and district heating networks and electric heat pumps. Bioenergy, green hydrogen and other electricity-based synthetic fuels are also mentioned: however, they should preferably be used in other sectors


Under this premise, the ministries involved propose two variants for meeting the 65-percent-EE target:

All compliance options at one stage: To meet the 65 per cent renewable energy target, the obligated owner can connect his building to a heating network or install a heating system that is powered by at least 65 per cent renewable energy. The following options are possible:

  • Connection to a heating network
  • Installation of a heat pump with the heat source air, ground or water
  • Installation of a biomass heating system based on solid or liquid biomass
  • Installation of a gas heating system using green gases
  • Installation of a hybrid heating system
  • Installation of direct electricity heating


Fulfilment options are distributed over two levels: Heating networks and heat pumps are clearly prioritised. The building owner can first choose between

  • Connection to a heating network
  • Installation of a heat pump
  • installation of a hybrid heating system consisting of a heat pump and another heat generator
  • Installation of a direct electricity heating system


Only if these options are technically or legally not possible, the 65% renewable obligation can alternatively be met by installing a heat generator based on biomethane, green hydrogen and its derivatives, and sustainable solid or liquid biomass.


en2x supports the design of the 65% renewable target for new heating systems based on the energy and climate policy objectives of the German government. At the same time, feasibility and social compatibility should be ensured. To this end, on the one hand, the energy demand of buildings must be reduced, and the remaining energy demand must be covered by greenhouse gas-neutral energies. To this end, all measures that can achieve the goals should be given equal consideration.

Only with a technology open approach suitable, cost-efficient and socially acceptable solutions can be found for the very different buildings and users. Therefore, en2x advocates the implementation of the single-stage fulfilment model in the amendment to the GEG, in which standardised fulfilment options are available for building owners to choose from on an equal basis.

Provided that they meet all sustainability requirements, renewable liquid energy sources should be recognized and explicitly named as a fulfilment option and also treated in the same way as green gases.


Status and future of oil heating

There are currently around 5.2 million oil-fired heating systems in Germany. Most of them are in detached and semi-detached houses in rural areas or on the outskirts of conurbations. About three million of the oil-heated buildings are located away from gas and heating networks. For technical or financial reasons, not every house with oil heating can easily be converted immediately to a heat supply based purely on renewable energy sources. In order to achieve the climate targets, it is nevertheless necessary to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings with oil heating through efficient and socially acceptable solutions. In perspective, a greenhouse gas-neutral heat supply of houses is also possible with oil heating: step by step and while maintaining a liquid energy source.

en2x Lorch no Logos

A triad of measures makes it possible to achieve the climate goals on the basis of existing heating systems:

  • Efficiency increases through modernisation of the heating system with condensing boiler technology as well as an improvement in building insulation.
  • Hybridisation through the direct integration of renewable energy, for example solar energy.
  • Use of alternative fuels from sustainable biomass or electricity-based e-fuels, which are increasingly replacing fossil fuel oil. The technology to use these energy sources is ready: Manufacturers of condensing boilers, tanks and other heating components label suitable appliances with a "Green Fuels Ready" product label.

This triad enables technically sensible and affordable solutions for the heterogeneous building and user structures. The benchmark for all compliance options should be the achievable CO2 reduction. In this respect, it is crucial that blends of renewable liquid fuels are explicitly recognised - on an equal footing with other climate protection options.