More renewable heating systems are needed to achieve the 2030 EU climate and energy targets. Today, only about 16% of heating in Europe is renewable and this share has not grown as fast as renewable electricity, in the past years. Therefore, EU Member States should set as soon as possible trajectories to define how their share of renewable heating should increase from 2020 to 2030. These trajectories will provide public authorities, industry and consumers with the predictability they need to plan towards 2030.
A key measure to increase the share of renewables in Europe is to equip more new buildings with renewable heating. Heating and hot water should be the focus, because they represent 85% of the energy consumption in a building. This means that measures promoting renewables in these sectors will have the strongest impact on buildings.
When it comes to fostering renewable heating, legislation should let people free to choose the technology that most suits their needs. Why? Because a garden may be an opportunity to install a geothermal heat pump, while a well-oriented rooftop is good for solar thermal, and a nearby forest can provide local wood. Every climate, every building type and every location has its specificities: the good news is that there is a renewable heating technology for all needs.
Not only that: Member States should also help consumers buy renewables, thanks to adequate incentives; indeed, their initial investment can be a barrier.
And renewable heating should not be limited to installations in buildings: district heating is largely non-renewable and this should change. Renewables in district heating should be promoted by allowing producers of renewable heat to feed their heat into district heating networks. Another good way of promoting renewables in district heating is to allow consumers to disconnect from a network where renewables are not used enough. This would put pressure on district heating operators to use more renewable heating.