Dr. Andreas Detig

Nordic Energy Revolution

21 October 2014 by Dr. Andreas Detig

Recently, the Nordic country has banned the installation of oil and gas-fired heating systems in new buildings. Beginning in 2016, the ban will be expanded to include oil heating systems in existing buildings. This political line has been publicly accepted and is known as the “Energy Agreement”.

Only buildings which are not connected to district heating networks or gas distribution systems are exempt from the obligation to use renewable energies. District heating is already used to heat half of Denmark’s buildings. However, about 27 percent of Danes still rely on regularly burning gas or oil.

Government Aid

In 2013, Denmark has introduced a new tax called “security of supply tax“, which will rise steadily until 2020. The tax is payable on fossil heating fuels to encourage usage of renewable energies. Due to their positive energy balance, heat pumps are exempt from this new tax. Thus, more and more Danes are turning to heat pumps for keeping their buildings warm.

As a further incentive, the Danish government supports the switch to renewable energies with financial government aids to homeowners.

The Danes’ ambitious goal for 2020 is to supply 35% of end energy by using renewable sources, rising to 100% in 2050. Wind energy is projected to provide 50% of the Danish energy consumption.

Success of heat pumps

In Germany, there has been no ban on oil or gas-fired heating systems so far. Nevertheless, there are tightening regulations in some states. When replacing a building’s central-heating boiler in the state of Baden-Württemberg, renewable energies must at least be included proportionally. The Europe-wide ErP-Labeling for heating boilers could ban the installation of condensing boilers which come without additional renewable technologies.

Whether the Danish strategy is suitable for Germany remains to be seen. Particularly in the south of Germany, capacities for wind energy are low.

Yet, increasing heat pump sales figures indicate that Germany, too, is adopting the tendency to replace fossil fuel heating equipment with modern heat pump systems. Given that heat still dominates energy end use and represents more than half of the total energy use, sustainable geothermal heating and cooling solutions will be on the rise.