EThere is one professional group that will not have to worry about their jobs in the next few years: heat pump installers. The federal government wants to largely ban the installation of new oil and gas heating systems from 2024 onwards. New heating systems should then run on 65 percent renewable energy. Where there are no district heating networks that use the waste heat from waste incineration plants, for example, this requirement amounts to an electricity-driven heat pump. On Wednesday, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Construction Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) discussed how to proceed with industry representatives. 500,000 new heat pumps are to be installed annually from 2024.
Compared to the previous year, this would correspond to more than three times as much. According to the industry association, 154,000 heat pumps were installed in 2021. Compared to the previous year, this was an increase of 28 percent. However, the slightly more than one million heat pumps in total remain a manageable number in view of the 19 million residential buildings and 2 million heated non-residential buildings in Germany. 70 percent of the 900,000 heaters that were installed last year use an energy source that the government urgently wants to get rid of: gas.
The demand is huge
Although still visibly exhausted from the nightly struggle to end the combustion engine at the meeting of the EU environment ministers, Habeck tried to exude a spirit of optimism. “This summit had an almost unbelievable dynamic,” he said, referring to the heat pump round. 6 million devices by 2030 are feasible. In fact, this goal is unlikely to fail due to demand. Since the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine and concerns about the gas supply in Germany, installers have been overwhelmed by requests for heat pumps – especially since the state covers up to 45 percent of the costs. The problem is the lack of supplies of equipment and also of skilled workers. The Central Sanitary Association had calculated in the spring that 41,000 technicians were already missing. Another 60,000 are needed for Habeck’s goals.
There should now be more advertising for trades and also more further training on the subject of heat pumps. Habeck’s State Secretary Patrick Graichen suggested last week at the Real Estate Industry Day that instead of several years of training, several weeks of training could be sufficient. However, heat pumps are considered to be extremely complex, especially when they are installed in existing buildings. If they are not optimally adjusted, there is a risk of high electricity bills.
It was noticeable that Geywitz repeatedly called for openness to technology after the summit. The background: Climate-neutral heating can also be done with wood pellets or, in the future, with hydrogen. Meanwhile, Habeck also expressly understands his heat pump offensive as a means of industrial policy. He announced that a funding program (IPCEI) for “renewables” should be launched at European level in the course of the year. Companies that produce heat pumps or solar systems in Germany could then count on subsidies.