Austria’s government is looking to ban the use of new fossil fuel heaters as of next year and replace very old oil and coal heaters with climate-friendly options by 2025, Euractiv reports.
Austria, like the other EU countries, aims to cut its reliance on Russian gas as soon as possible. The government says that abandoning Russian gas should happen simultaneously with adopting renewable heat options.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Austria received around 80% of the natural gas it consumed from Russia. As of August, this high dependence on Russian gas flows had dropped to below 50%, the government said.
The ban on new fossil fuel heaters, however, would need the approval of at least two-thirds of the Austrian Parliament because the draft bill would require amendments to the constitution, Euractiv’s Nikolaus Kurmayer notes.
“The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has shown how vulnerable our energy supply is. The answer to that can only be ‘get rid of Russian gas’,” Austria’s Energy and Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler said on Wednesday.
With the Renewable Heat Act (EWG), Austria is now taking another big step on this path, Gewessler added.
Under the new act, gas heaters cannot be installed in new buildings as of 2023, the minister said, adding that by 2040, Austria would switch all heaters in the country to climate-friendly alternatives, getting rid of oil and gas boilers, and moving to use heat pumps, district heating, or pellets.
Austria will support the proposed heaters switch program by making available around $1.95 billion (2 billion euros) by 2026, the minister said.
The Renewable Heat Act (Erneuerbaren-Wärme-Gesetz, EWG) says that fossil-fuel heating such as coal, oil, and gas heating should be phased out in Austria by 2040.
Presenting the initial draft of the bill, minister Gewessler said earlier this year that heating currently accounts for around one-quarter of Austria’s gas consumption.