A substantial proportion of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to its municipalities. The federal state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is the first to tackle this challenge head-on with an amendment to its Climate Protection Act which requires city districts and larger towns to submit heating plans for their territory by 2023. The plans should be aligned with the goals of energy transition, effecting a shift away from gas and oil towards renewable and alternative energy supplies, and reuse of waste heat.
"Our climate protection goals can only be achieved if we manage to make our heat supply climate-neutral, that means as CO2-free as possible. The local authorities play a central role in this," said Baden-Württemberg's Secretary of State for the Environment Andre Baumann recently at the ‘Nahwärme kompakt‘ (in English: ‘Local Heating Compact’) congress of the Climate Protection and Energy Agency Baden-Württemberg in Karlsruhe.
The regulation, which comes into force in June, will apply to districts with more than 20,000 inhabitants (equivalent to 50 percent of the state’s population), but will be voluntary for smaller municipalities who will receive incentives.
The core elements of the heating network plan will be analysis (of local energy demands and infrastructure for generation and distribution), assessment (of the potential for renewable and alternative energy sources and for reuse of waste heat in each area), and, finally, recommendations. Heat consumption data will need to be collected by energy suppliers and service providers and then fed into a state-wide ‘energy atlas’.
The Renewable Energy Agency (AEE) provides an introduction to how municipalities can draw up a heating plan. It says the changeover from gas will not happen overnight, but the strategic advantages are clear: investment into local services and infrastructure, job creation, heat price stability and lower overall emissions. The heating plans will challenge communities with the task of designing systems where energy and money flows back in.