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Emissions, to meet EU reduction targets we need to decarbonise boilers and heating

The #Coolproducts campaign: new energy labels and more ambitious targets as early as 2023.

22 February 2021

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 55% by 2030, as set by the EU targets, it is necessary to decarbonise building heating systems and relaunch the market for renewable energies boilers. Our time is running out and the EU, governments and national parliaments must act because it is too late.

This is what the latest report of the organizations involved in the campaign to raise awareness and information about the new European energy efficiency regulations, #Coolproducts, argues. The Italian partners of the campaign are the associations Legambiente and Kyoto Club, which since last autumn have launched the project "Per la decarbonizzazione: efficienza energetica e riscaldamento negli edifici in Italia".

According to the document, to meet these targets it will be necessary to act on two sides. Firstly, it will be necessary to introduce a new and more ambitious energy label for boilers starting from 2023, to boost the market towards renewable and green energies. Secondly, this measure should be combined with a progressive ban on polluting and fossil heating systems.

According to official campaign statistics, 28% of the total energy consumed in the EU is used for room heating, while more than 75% of the energy produced for heating private residential buildings currently comes from gas, oil, and coal. Consequently, the emissions produced by this sector are about 12% of total emissions.

As the Association Ecos warns, the eco-design rules adopted in 2013 by the EU contribute to a cut of 80 million tons of CO2 per year.  But if strengthened, these policies could lead to 30 Mt of CO2 emissions per year by 2030, 90 Mt by 2040 and 110 Mt by 2050.  But achieving this goal will require the harmonization of NOx (nitrogen oxides) emission limits for boilers above 400 kW with eco-design regulations.

The campaign also argues that hydrogen is not the most appropriate choice to decarbonise the whole sector. Studies have already shown that only less than 10 percent of thermal needs could be met by green methane. Hydrogen produced from renewables will be limited and very expensive, so it should be used to decarbonize other sectors that currently have no alternative (e.g. high-intensity industries or sea and air transport). Conversely, the focus will need to be on heat pumps, district heating and complete building renovation.

"To start and complete the energy transition of the sector, it will be fundamental to launch a debate with associations, companies and national stakeholders on this issue. The main aim is to arrive at a consensus on the strengthening of electrification measures for boilers and water heaters and to modify the Italian PNIEC so that it was in line with the new emission reduction targets for 2030," say the National Vice President of Legambiente, Edoardo Zanchini and Kyoto Club Director Sergio Andreis. Both associations strongly hope that the new Ministry of Ecological Transition will succeed in "reconciling the needs of the industrial sector with environmental and climate issues, supporting companies in the sector in industrial transformation with the ultimate goal of making our country a world leader in climate-friendly heating technologies". 

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