Austria to phase out fossil heating by 2040

Austria's climate minister Leonore Gewessler. Image by Cajetan Perwein, Austria's Ministry for Climate Action.

June 14 (Renewables Now) - The Austrian government is planning changes to the Renewable Heating Act (EWG) that will pave the way for the phase-out of fossil fuel heating systems by 2040 and the transition to renewable heating as the country seeks to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian gas supplies.

The draft bill was presented by climate and energy minister Leonore Gewessler on Monday and is expected to be passed soon.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, the federal government decided to end the use of gas for room heating much more quickly and ban the installation of gas heating systems in new buildings from 2023 on instead of 2025, as earlier planned.

Around one million households in Austria currently heat with gas which accounts for about a quarter of the country's gas consumption. The import of gas for heating purposes comes mainly from Russia and costs EUR 2 billion (USD 2.09bn) a year, Gewessler explained.

"Every gas heater we get rid of is a step away from dependence on Russian gas. Every apartment and every house that we keep warm with sustainable heating makes us freer and less vulnerable to blackmail. That's why gas heating in new buildings will no longer be used from 2023," the minister said.

Under the proposed legislation, broken oil and coal heating systems must be replaced with renewable heating systems from 2023 on and the owners of old coal and oil heaters will have to swap them for a sustainable alternative by 2035.

By 2040, all gas heating systems in the Alpine country will have to be replaced with renewable heating systems or run on biogenic gas.

The transition to green heating will be supported with substantial state subsidies.

(EUR 1 = USD 1.046)

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