In the climate protection programme 2030, the federal cabinet of Germany has focused more of its attention on the heating market. The federal government anticipates high CO2 savings in particular from the replacement of old heating systems, which it intends to provide financial incentives for in the future. At the “Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Innovation Forum” held on 29 October 2019 in Frankfurt, representatives from politics and industry discussed what contribution fuel cell heating can make to achieving a transition in heating more quickly.

“Politics is finally focusing on Germany’s largest energy consumption sector, the heating market. The success of the overall energy transition also depends on a transition in heating, as the sector offers the greatest potential for reducing CO2 emissions. These potentials urgently need to be tackled,” said Andreas Lücke, spokesman for the Fuel Cell Initiative (IBZ – Initiative Brennstoffzelle) and Managing Director of the Federal Association of the German Heating Industry (BDH – Bundesverband der Deutschen Heizungsindustrie), at the event. Around 6 out of 10 heating systems in Germany are outdated and therefore inefficient. At the same time, the federal government is defining ambitious targets for the building sector. CO2 emissions are to be reduced from 119 million tonnes per year to 72 million tonnes per year by 2030. “If politicians want to achieve this goal, the modernisation rate must be doubled,” says Lücke.

“With fuel cell heating, there is already a technology on the market that ensures a high level of climate protection both in new buildings and in existing buildings,” explains Dr. Timm Kehler, spokesman for the IBZ and board member of the Zukunft ERDGAS industry initiative. Being the most efficient way of generating heat and electricity, the fuel cell plays a pivotal role in the energy transition process, while at the same time protecting the climate: almost 70 percent CO2 is saved compared to an old gas heating system. In addition, energy costs are reduced by around two thirds. In existing buildings, it offers a further decisive advantage: it eliminates the need for time-consuming building renovations and only incurs costs for the system itself.

For this reason, an ever-increasing number of households are opting for this key technology. Since the start of KfW’s 433 “Fuel Cell Grant” funding programme in the summer of 2016, 8,933 funding applications have been approved up to and including September 2019, as the latest figures from the Federal Ministry of Economics show. In the current year, 3,405 applications with a funding volume of almost 47 million euros have already been received – 30 percent more than in the same period last year. Manufacturers are therefore expecting demand to rise further and have already introduced two new models in 2019, which, among other things, will enable higher performance and better Internet connectivity. Another device is to follow at the end of the year. Moreover, a new supplier has also entered the market this year.

“Due to the increasing product diversity, this high-tech device is increasingly adapting to individual consumer needs. Irrespective of whether in existing or new buildings, whether single-family or apartment buildings – the future can find its way into any heating cellar,” emphasises Kehler. A further advantage: while fuel cells today still produce hydrogen from natural gas, tomorrow they can be operated directly with hydrogen from the gas grid. “Fuel cell heating thus has the potential to become a game changer for the heating transition. It enables everyone to enter the hydrogen age,” says Kehler.

About the Fuel Cell Initiative (IBZ – Initiative Brennstoffzelle)
The Fuel Cell Initiative (IBZ) is committed to firmly embedding efficiency technology in the heating market. The initiative is supported by the Federal Association of the German Heating Industry (BDH – Bundesverband der Deutschen Heizungsindustrie) and the Zukunft ERDGAS industry initiative. The German Gas and Water Industry Association (DVGW – Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfachs) and the National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW GmbH) support the IBZ as cooperation partners.