Commissioned by a number of energy suppliers and grid operators, the law firm Becker Büttner Held (BBH) and the business consulting firm Becker Büttner Held Consulting AG (BBHC) produced a study which examines the impact of Germany’s heat transition on gas distribution grids. BBH has now published a management summary outlining the key findings from this study.
The heat transition is one of the decisive factors for achieving the ambitious carbon targets set by the German Federal Government. However, an increase in the direct and, above all, indirect use of renewable energy sources in the heat sector may – depending on the particulars – place a burden on the outdated structures of the gas and heat supply system in Germany. In an extensive study, BBH has now explored how the heat transition and sector coupling will affect those infrastructures.
From a meta-analysis of already published studies, the BBH and BBHC authors derived four different demand scenarios for the period up to 2050 and eight model distribution grids on the basis of which they developed a total of 32 integrated grid planning scenarios. The survey analyses these scenarios both from a business as well as a regulatory and legal perspective.
Let us take a look at the findings: The overall demand for gas will decline; some scenarios showed a drastic decline, others only a slight decrease. For gas grid operators this may have considerable economic consequences to which they ought to respond early on by either shutting down their grids or adjusting their business strategy. However, under the regulatory framework currently in place, grid operators do not have much leeway in this respect.
“Provided the Federal Government is serious about achieving the climate protection targets, the heat supply structure will change fundamentally in the coming decades. Grid operators must not be left to their own devices by policymakers along the way”, says lawyer Dr. Olaf Däuper, BBH gas expert and partner in charge of this study. Peter Bergmann, member of the board of BBHC, and Thomas Straßer, expert for company valuations at BBH, add: “The entire regulatory framework and the calculation of grid charges need to be examined carefully if the heat sector is to contribute to the energy transition.”
Even now, the BBH/BBHC study sees considerable potential regarding, in particular, the decentralised level. Municipal heat planning can be used as a tool to identify the most favourable strategy towards ensuring a long-term heat supply at local level and to implement such strategy in cooperation with the municipal utilities and other municipal players. Dr. Olaf Däuper says: “The heat transition will either kick off at municipal level or fail to gain momentum.”
Grid operators are welcome to turn to BBH if they are interested in a specific analysis of their gas infrastructure in view of the heat transition. The platform “Kommunale Wärmewende – Zukunft der Infrastrukturen” (municipal heat transition – the future of infrastructures), recently launched by BBH, provides municipal utilities with a focus on gas and heat supply as well as decision-makers from the fields of politics, consulting and science with a forum for exchanging their views and ideas.
Becker Büttner Held is a leading provider of advisory services for energy and infrastructure companies and their customers. Energy and supply companies, particularly public utilities, municipalities and local authorities, industrial companies and international groups are among its core clients. BBH advises these and many other companies and organisations in all legal matters and also assists them with business and strategic advice.
Dr. Ines Zenke
Tel +49 (0)30 611 28 40-179
Dr. Olaf Däuper
Tel +49 (0)30 611 28 40-15