Again excitement about the heat pump: A project of the EU Commission makes new headlines. What is the EU really planning?
Germany is still discussing the planned revision of the Building Energy Act (GEG), also known as the Heating Act. A main point of criticism: the allegedly obligatory installation of heat pumps.
What is meant is an innovation under the EU Ecodesign Directive. This guideline has existed since 2005. It is intended to strengthen the market for environmentally friendly products while promoting energy efficiency. The subject is all products that either consume energy themselves or whose use influences energy consumption.
However, the Ecodesign Directive only provides the legal framework. The specific requirements for products are defined in so-called eco-design product regulations. And that’s exactly what it’s about now.
Revision of the heating regulation planned
These product regulations are set by the European Commission. It develops the requirements in exchange with associations and responsible ministries from the EU member states. The highlight: because it is not a law, neither the states nor the EU Parliament have to agree. The requirements apply immediately without a transitional period and do not have to be transposed into national law.
In total, there are currently requirements for 29 product groups – including heaters. And now there is a revision. Among other things, the EU Commission is planning stricter limit values for energy efficiency. If the Commission’s draft is actually implemented as it is currently planned, this would mean that from 2029 no boilers powered exclusively by fossil fuels such as gas or oil would be allowed to be offered on the market.
Stricter minimum requirements planned
The reason for this: the new requirements for the “ecodesign” of heating systems. With its plan, the EU Commission is aiming for a key figure that indicates how much heat the heating system gains from its energy source. However, it is not just about the consumption of gas or oil, for example, but also of electricity for the boiler pumps, for example.
The following applies: the higher the value, the more efficient the heating. Values above 100 percent indicate that the heater is generating more thermal energy than it is being supplied with energy. Heat pumps manage this because they draw a large part of their energy from the environment – which is why they are extremely efficient and are the focus of the heat transition.
Suddenly in focus: Annex II, Article 1c
According to the Commission, the minimum value that heating devices with an output of up to 1 megawatt (small and medium-sized heating systems) must meet is to increase slightly from 2025. Above all, however, Article 1c of Annex II, which is to apply from 2029, is important:
“The minimum annual space heating energy efficiency of the specified space heaters (…) is raised to 115%, which means that heaters that do not achieve this minimum value can no longer be placed on the market,” it says.
“Specified space heaters” are fuel boilers, electric heaters, heaters using waste heat from electricity generation (combined heat and power) and heat pumps.
The end for gas and oil heating
Striking: Even with the specifications from 2025, only heating systems with combined heat and power and heat pumps are around or even above the 115 percent required from 2029. This can be explained physically: fuel boilers cannot generate more energy than is fed into them. However, this is required for an energy efficiency value of over 100 percent.
This makes it clear: If the new regulation, as currently proposed by the European Commission, comes into effect, it will mean the end for all new gas and oil heating systems from 2029.