Decarbonising heat and nature conservation: paths to a nature- and climate-compatible heating sector

Project title: Nature conservation aspects in future regulations on renewable energies in the heating sector


  • Overview of laws, policy objectives and instruments aimed at achieving a climate-friendly heating sector
  • Examination of technologies and efficiency measures regarding their impact on nature conservation and landscape
  • Derivation of energy policy recommendations for action


HIC Hamburg Institut Consulting GmbH
Paul-Nevermann-Platz 5, D-22765 Hamburg
Christian Maaß





FKZ 3519 86 0400
Departmental Research Plan 2019
Term: 01.11.2019 – 31.10.2021


The heating sector in Germany is to be decarbonised during the coming decades and is thus facing major changes: There is no longer any perspective for natural gas and heating oil, which are still the dominant energy sources today, in a climate-neutral heat supply. This increases the demand for renewable heat and the pressure on land use, e. g. for heat from biomass or solar thermal energy. This study examines the potential impacts of the “heat transition” on land use and how negative impacts on nature conservation can be avoided.

The energy transition can only succeed if all sectors are included in the transformation process. This includes the heating sector in particular, as it accounts for more than half of the final energy demand in Germany. While the electricity sector is currently the focus of the energy transition, the heating and cooling transitions in Germany have so far fallen short of expectations. The share of renewable energies in final energy consumption for heating and cooling has stagnated at less than 15 % for years. The heat transition can only succeed with a significant increase in this share. In order to prevent or minimise conflicts, the concerns of nature conservation and landscape have to be integrated into the eventual target system and the related instruments of the heat transition from the outset.

The aim of the project is to create an orientation framework and a knowledge base for integrating nature conservation concerns into the development of future heating and cooling supply sector. A central element here is the reduction and management of the land requirements that go hand in hand with the demand for renewable heat supply.


  • Interdisciplinary and comprehensive identifying, including the nature conservation-oriented assessment, of possible paths to a climate-neutral heating and cooling sector in Germany
  • Review of relevant energy policy fundamentals of heat supply
  • Analysis of different scenarios for achieving a CO2-neutral heat supply
  • Identification of possible fields of action and instrumental levers in the legal and funding frameworks
  • Formulation of well-founded recommendations for a nature-friendly further development of the legal framework of the heat transition

Work packages

Work packages

  1. Compilation of an overview of existing laws, political objectives and existing instruments for achieving a climate-friendly heating system.
  2. Comparative meta-analysis of different scenarios for heating and cooling supply up to the year 2050
  3. Investigation of available technologies and efficiency measures, such as biomass combustion, heat pumps and solar thermal energy, regarding their impact on nature conservation and the landscape
  4. Systematic evaluation of the factors influencing the development of the heating and cooling market on the basis of seven fields of action, including quantitative and qualitative control of biomass demand in the heating sector, quantitative minimisation of the induced land demand, nature conservation-oriented land selection, operation of renewable energy heat generation plants and nature-friendly efficiency measures for buildings
  5. Derivation of energy policy recommendations for action: concrete and implementable proposals for a change in the regulatory framework and possible funding instruments to give nature-friendly heating technologies an economic market advantage over less nature-friendly heating technologies.

Project partners

Project partners

Project management

HIC Hamburg Institut Consulting GmbH
Paul-Nevermann-Platz 5, D-22765 Hamburg
Christian Maaß

Project partners

Bodensee-Stiftung / Lake Constance Foundation
Fritz-Reichle-Ring 4, D-78315 Radolfzell
Dipl. Forester Dimitri Vedel

Funding authority

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
Georgia Erdmann


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