At the end of 2014 the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) revised the mini CHP (combined heat and power) impulse program. It has now been in force since 1st January 2015, and has brought with it a range of new developments for FC heating equipment in particular, as fuel cells are more effective than conventional heating elements, a factor that is henceforth receiving funding. With this revision, the BMUB has used an established funding instrument – the mini CHP impulse program – in order to incorporate highly efficient equipment in building inventories and to therefore increase the levels of overall efficiency, especially in the heating segment.
Since April 2012, small combined heat and power plants with an electrical output of up to 20kW have been in receipt of funding from the German federal government. This is because mini CHP plants are highly efficient but they are also very expensive, which is why a special impulse is required for their sale to ensure that this technology is accepted by the end customers. To this end, the BMUB initiated the mini CHP impulse program. The program is being implemented by the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), which is where the appropriate applications are submitted.
The revision of the impulse program, which was published on 12th December 2014, provides for an increased level of basic funding, the introduction of bonus subsidies as well as simplified technical requirements. In specific terms, since the start of the year, the new arrangements have envisaged mini CHP plants with up to 20 kilowatts of electricity (kWel) to receive a higher level of basic funding in the future: It is possible to apply for 1,900 Euros in support from the BAFA for up to 1kWel. Furthermore, there is the newly introduced bonus subsidy (electrical efficiency bonus) for particularly energy-efficient systems (ŋel > 31%), which totals 60% of the basic funding. An additional bonus funding for exceptionally thermally efficient systems (the thermal efficiency bonus) is also able to provide an additional 25% of the basic funding. On this basis, the end customer is able to access approximately 3,500 Euros as an investment allowance. This only applies to current buildings, however, and not to new buildings.
Collaboration with government ministries
The prices of FC heating devices currently remain so high that they deter potential customers. The German federal government has therefore recently passed measures which are partially coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, partially by the Ministry of the Environment (see above), and partially by the Ministry of Transport (please see also the following articles).