Citizens' Forum in Austria

In Austria, oil-heating households have their say: Since the end of 2022 EWO (Energie.Wärme.Österreich) – the Austrian competence centre for domestic heating and liquid fuels - has been touring Austria.

As part of the citizens' forum, members of oil-heating households were discussing a climate-friendly future for domestic heating.

EWO launched this form of citizen participation last year in order to get to know oil heating owners and their concerns and wishes better. Within the framework of half-day workshops, the focus is on ideas for the future of domestic heating, but also on current technical and legal issues.

„We launched the EWO Citizens' Forum because the opinion of the approximately 600,000 oil-heating households in Austria is very important to us", says EWO Managing Director Martin Reichard.

The aim is to create a platform for oil-heating households to network with each other. Reichard: "In the course of the workshops, we are working together to draw up a list of requirements for the future of domestic heating with renewable, liquid energy sources." The demands will be incorporated into an "EWO Roadmap", which will ultimately be presented to political decision-makers.

No interference with property

What is clear from all these meetings is that Austria's oil heating system owners are very satisfied with their heating systems and want to be heard by politicians. In particular, they defend themselves against encroachments on property in the form of bans. Many of the measures that are being discussed by policymakers lack market-based principles and an efficient cost-benefit ratio. Greater attention should also be paid to the individual circumstances of oil heating households.

It is incomprehensible to many participants why neither hybrid heating systems nor the use of climate-friendly liquid fuels in conventional oil-fired heating systems are recognised or why their contribution to climate protection is currently not taken into account.

Oil heating in particular is ideally suited for combining with renewable energy sources in the form of hybrid heating. The basic principle is that renewable energies are used whenever they are available. If this is not the case, for example if there is only a small amount of solar power available from the photovoltaic system in winter, the reliable oil heating system steps in to provide heat.

List of Requirments (extract)

  • Openness to all technologies
  • Taking into account the optinion of affected oil heating households and other stakeholders
  • Not only set goals, but also show realistic solutions how to achieve them
  • No privileging of ienergy sources such as electricity at the expense of others
  • Conversion scenarios to alternative heating systems must be realistic and strategically planned
  • Possibility of adding climate-friendly liquid fuels to conventional fossil fuel for immediate CO2 savings 
  • Recognition and promotion of hybrid systems
  • Promotion of investments to reduce energy consumption