Heat transition for a successful energy transition


The generation of heat puts a strain on the environment and on companies’ budgets. It is therefore important not only to reduce heat consumption, but also to ensure climate-friendly heat supply. Because currently in Germany about a third of the energy is used for heat generation. In order to advance the energy transition and achieve the climate targets, the heat transition is therefore needed.

What is the heat transition?

The heat transition is about a sustainable energy supply for buildings and industry in the heat sector. With the use of renewable energies instead of the currently dominant fossil fuels and the increase in energy efficiency, not only is the heat transition being promoted, but at the same time a major contribution is being made to the general energy transition. The goal is a climate-neutral heat supply by 2045.

Heat generation technologies, such as decarbonised district heating, heat pumps and solar thermal, as well as measures such as thermal insulation of buildings, can drastically reduce heat consumption, which is made even more important than it already was by the increased climate targets. Now is the time for a fast, effective and at the same time cost-efficient heat transition.

Heat transition: the share of renewable energies is increasing

While the share of renewable energies in the electricity sector fell again for the first time in 2021 at a good 45 percent, the share in the heating sector has been rising continuously by a few percent since 2017.

In 2016, the share of renewable energies was still 13.7 percent. In 2020, on the other hand, the targeted 14 percent limit was exceeded again. Ultimately, the share in 2020 was even 15.6 percent. An important step towards the heat transition.

Share of renewable energies in the electricity and heat sectors
Share of renewable energies in the electricity and heat sectors

Heat transition: Half of final energy consumption in the heat sector

Due to the corona pandemic, final energy consumption in Germany in the electricity, heat and transport sectors fell significantly in 2020. Only a good 20 percent of final energy consumption is accounted for by the electricity sector. A good half of final energy consumption can be attributed to the heating sector instead. Natural gas alone, as the most important source of energy in the heat sector, accounts for over 25 percent of total consumption. In addition, there is heating oil and district heating.

Most households use more energy just to heat their buildings than for all other purposes combined. Depending on the type of production and/or service, a very similar situation can be found in companies and on industrial sites. The heat requirement of residential buildings, office buildings and industrial companies is therefore large and an enormous cost driver.

Thermal efficiency as an important parameter: companies can do this

In addition to the development towards an increased use of thermal energy from renewable energy sources, the topic of thermal efficiency is also an important parameter. There are different options for action, some of which are also funded by the state.

Thermal protection through building renovation

Although the heat consumption of new buildings has been greatly reduced by energy regulations, the overall heat consumption has hardly fallen. The energetic refurbishment of buildings has only reached a small part of the properties, especially in the commercial sector.

Already knew? Anyone who refurbishes old buildings to make them more energy-efficient can save up to 50 percent of heating energy. 40 percent already in the area of ​​insulation of the facade, the roof and the basement.

Sector coupling: Energy transition as a basis for the heat transition

The energy and electricity transition are currently almost synonymous, that has to change. The energy transition and the expansion of renewable energies for power generation have created the necessary basis for a heating transition. Sector coupling and the connection of the electricity and heat sectors come together for a successful heat transition. Wherever renewable thermal energy sources such as biogenic solid fuels, biogas, solar or geothermal energy come to an end, electrical energy from renewable sources comes into play.

Combined heat and power and heat pumps

Combined heat and power generation (CHP) is an example of the close integration of renewable electricity and heat production. In the context of CHP, electricity and heat are generated together. Waste heat provides the technical basis for these systems. In the manufacturing industry in particular, large quantities are often generated that are not always used as a by-product, but are simply discharged. However, the waste heat can be used as heating energy via a heat exchanger; for example to generate hot water. A downstream generator generates electricity at the same time. (See figure) The efficiency of CHP systems is also very high. Heat is generated by using heat pumps with the help of electrical energy.

Heat can also be stored much more cheaply than electrical energy for short periods of time. The energy and heating transitions are directly intertwined here.

Heat transition in Germany: an important step towards the future

There is currently no talk of a real heat transition in Germany. The increasing provision of energy from renewable energy sources is not only an important step towards sustainability and independence for the electricity sector. The federal government has also recognized that there is a need to catch up in the heating sector and decided on the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan back in December 2017.

The Areva is actively committed to positive, sustainable development and accompanies companies on their way to efficient energy management, which uses both electricity and e.g. T. Heat concepts included.

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