Germany’s National Hydrogen Council (NWR – Nationaler Wasserstoffrat) has commissioned the Fraunhofer Institutes for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and Energy Economics and Energy Systems Technology (IEE) to conduct an analysis and evaluation of different decarbonisation paths for the heating market.

In the context of the real supply situation, the study is intended to close a research gap with its bottom-up approach. It will also take into account regional and local differences in the heating market by means of representative supply areas with the inclusion of local suppliers. Based on the results of this study, the NWR will make recommendations for action to decarbonise the heating market. The NWR has advocated that policy-makers should not make any fundamental technological decision for the decarbonisation of the heating market until the results have been presented.

Katherina Reiche, Chair of the National Hydrogen Council (NWR), comments: “We are very pleased that we have found two renowned partners in the Fraunhofer Institutes ISE and IEE, who will scientifically analyse the topic in the context of the transition of the entire energy system. The results will be an important contribution to setting the political course in the heating market.”

The NWR recommends that no fundamental decisions be made for or against the use of green gases or hydrogen in the heating market until the results of the study are available. The background to this recommendation is that there are large discrepancies in the demand estimates in the studies to date as to what role green gases will play in a decarbonised heating market. Given this state of affairs, it is not yet possible to make reliable recommendations for political measures.

The study, which is to be completed by spring 2022, will be the basis for providing recommendations in the form of a roadmap with options for a decarbonised heating market in 2045. The bottom-up approach of the study takes into account the regional and local differences in building and process heat through representatively selected supply areas as well as embedding them in the transition of the entire energy system as it relates to the local suppliers.

The heating sector faces significant challenges. By 2045 at the latest, this locally and regionally organised sector must achieve climate-neutral supply status. This raises the question of how to accomplish this goal in a way that is economically cost-efficient and affordable for the heat user. In addition to the important economic aspects, the issues of acceptance, security of supply and resilience of the path of transition are also of fundamental importance. The effects of new, climate-neutral forms of heating supply on infrastructure requirements, conversion costs, technical feasibility, overall systemic efficiency and long-term sustainability must be investigated.