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Germany’s energy and climate policy for the building sector is ambitious: The country aims to have a climate-neutral building stock by 2050. That is no mean feat in a country with nearly 22 million buildings – nearly three quarters of which were built before the first efficiency standards were introduced in 1978.
Speaking at a recent online event, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier outlined new measures to meet the challenge: “The building sector is an important factor in the success of the energy transition. In the current legislative period, we have decided on numerous measures for more energy efficiency and climate protection and provided almost six billion euros to finance new federal subsidies for building and heating system modernization in 2021. That is good for the climate and good for the economy because investments in building efficiency reach the local trades.”
Dramatic rise in funding applications
Applications to the BMWi’s building efficiency programs almost doubled in 2020 to 600,000 following improvements to the conditions. Much of this growth was driven by applications for heating systems based on renewables (76,000 in 2019 to >280,000 in 2020). The oil exchange bonus started having an effect: 110,000 applications were received to swap out oil-burning heating equipment for renewables-based systems. Heat pumps were the most often subsidized system (144,000 applications), followed by biomass systems (96,000) and solar thermal (58,000). There were 37,000 applications for gas hybrid heaters.
Under its “CO2 building renovation program”, Germany’s KfW development bank almost doubled the number of commitments for deep renovations to Effizienzhaus standards in 2020 to 20,000. The number of individual measures it approved also rose to 105,000 from 81,000 the previous year. The number of new construction projects for highly efficient buildings that were subsidized increased significantly to 93,000 (2019: 44,000).
The new funding program: simpler, bigger, better
The “Federal Funding for Efficient Buildings Program” (BEG), which launched at the start of the year, bundles the previous programs to promote energy efficiency and renewable energies in the building sector and brings a number of improvements. Applications and processing will be even easier and the incentives will be augmented and geared more closely to meet the country’s energy and climate policy goals. In 2021, the BEG will be funded with almost six billion euros to subsidize building and heating system modernization.