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BEW subsidy for 5GDHC networks (anergy networks)

The federal funding for efficient heating networks (Bundesförderung für effiziente Wärmenetze, BEW) is the central funding program for heating networks in Germany. On this page, you find basic information on the BEW and in particular on the funding of 5GDHC networks (anergy networks). The article reflects the draft law as of August 2021. For current information as of August 2022, see Transformation Plan for Heat Networks (BEW Funding).

What does the BEW subsidy cover?

The BEW consists of three funding modules:

  • Module 1: Transformation plans & feasibility studies
  • Module 2: Systemic support (investment and operating cost support)
  • Module 3: Individual measures

The 1st module (transformation plans & feasibility studies) includes funding for the preparation of transformation plans for existing heat networks and feasibility studies for the construction of new heat networks (at least 75 %) fed by renewable heat sources and waste heat. The maximum funding is 50 % of the eligible costs (maximum 600,000 euros). The 2nd module (systemic funding) supports investments and also operating costs. The maximum subsidy is 40 % of the eligible investment costs. Eligible for funding are heating networks that are fed with at least 75 % renewable heat. It is important to know which heat sources/generators are considered renewable: In principle, heat from heat pumps is considered 100 % renewable heat. This also applies if the heat pump is powered by (partly fossil) grid electricity. Heat pumps can use ambient heat (e.g. outdoor air, surface water, wastewater, deep and near-surface geothermal energy, etc.) as heat sources. Similarly, heat from solar thermal systems (as well as hybrid photovoltaic-solarthermal systems) is considered renewable. Waste heat is also considered a renewable heat source, but only if it comes from unavoidable processes. This means that heat from combined heat and power (CHP), e.g. cogeneration plants, is not considered renewable. Heat from biogas combustion is not renewable heat according to the BEW. Biogas boilers are considered fossil plants, unless biogas would be produced in the district itself. Heat from deep geothermal is also considered renewable. Power-to-heat (i.e., direct electric heat generators such as electrode boilers) are considered renewable if they are operated to serve the grid. The supply temperature of the heat network must not exceed 95 °C for funding.

According to the BEW, network extensions are also eligible, for example, the thermal reuse of the return flow of a heat network for a low-temperature network or cold heat network. BEW and BEG (German federal subsidy for efficient buildings) can also be used simultaneously in principle. For example, in the case of a 5GDHC network, the source, the heat network and the decentralized heat pumps can be subsidized via the BEW and the BEG is used to subsidize the building. A fundamental advantage of the BEW is that the subsidy is secured with the granted approval and can thus be firmly scheduled. It is then no longer dependent on future political developments. In principle, companies, municipalities, municipal enterprises, special-purpose associations, registered associations and cooperatives are eligible to apply.

What are the differences in the BEW compared to the predecessor funding program (Wärmenetze 4.0 program)?

The BEW is the successor to the Wärmenetze 4.0 funding program (WN4.0). Many guidelines have been adopted, but there are also some new regulations to consider: In contrast to the WN4.0 subsidy, there is no quantity criterion for the minimum amount of heat to be purchased in the neighborhood (previously: 1000 MWh/year in the neighborhood). Heat networks with a minimum number of connected buildings of 17 or, alternatively, at least 100 residential units are subsidized. Heat networks with 16 or fewer buildings are eligible for funding through the Federal Efficient Buildings Grant (BEG). Another new feature of the BEW is that a transformation path to emissions neutrality in 2045 must be preconceived and concretely described for each heat network. Fossil heat generators are no longer eligible, unlike the previous program, even if the overall system is eligible. The BEW now also has an operating cost subsidy for systems that provide renewable heat (primarily heat pumps and solar thermal).

Are 5GDHC networks subsidized under the German BEW subsidy program?

Yes, 5GDHC/anergy networks can be supported by the BEW subsidy. However, it should be noted that the decentralized heat pumps in the buildings must be owned by the heat network operator. If the decentralized heat pumps are not owned by the heat network operator, the entire system is not eligible. Therefore, a feasible solution is that the heat network operator initially takes over the investment of the decentralized heat pumps and after a certain period of time, these become the property of the building owner. The transfer of ownership can take place after 10 years, for example. The reason why the decentralized building heat pumps have to be owned by the heat network operator is that the BEW only supports systems that provide directly usable heat. However, the cold local heating network basically provides only low-temperature heat (i.e. anergy) to the buildings, which cannot yet be used directly. The overall system to be subsidized must therefore include the decentralized heat pumps. Since the network operator submits the funding application, it must also purchase the decentralized heat pumps.

The nPro tool has been developed especially for planning 5GDHC networks.

Operating subsidies

The operating cost subsidy was included as a new element in the new BEW: The aim of the operating cost subsidy is to promote systems that provide renewable heat but are less economical than conventional fossil heat generators (CHP, boilers). The subsidy for operating costs can be applied for 10 years. Heat pumps, which are subsidized, must have an annual performance factor of at least 1.25. Subsidized are:

  • Solar thermal systems with 2 EUR-ct/kWh
  • Heat pumps that feed into a heating network (i.e. no building heat pumps in 5GDHC/anergy networks): Heat pumps that are operated with electricity from the grid can be subsidized with 90 % of the electricity costs, but with a maximum of 7 ct/kWhth. Heat pumps that are operated with renewable electricity (e.g. from an own PV system) can also be subsidized with 90 % of the electricity costs, but with a maximum of 3  ct/kWhth.

In addition, hybrid solar thermal systems, such as PVT collectors, are subsidized.

Sources (German)

  1. Draft of the funding guideline "Federal funding for efficient heating networks", as of 18.08.2021
  2. Explanations on the amendment of the BEW and BEG
  3. Explanation of funding guidelines of the BEW

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