What does fossil fuel heating mean, exactly?

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The Cool Heating Coalition has signed a position paper by ECOS urging the European Commission to adopt a clear, unambiguous and ambitious definition of fossil fuel heating in buildings. The position paper was published following the adoption of the revised energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD), which mandates that no fossil fuels be used in buildings after 2040. 

As part of the regulatory framework of the EPBD, the European Commission will provide  guidance on what qualifies as a fossil fuel boiler. This guidance will determine what technologies receive upstream investment, and therefore widespread attention from both manufacturers and consumers.  An ambiguous definition of what qualifies as a fossil-free unit could allow the use of technologies that use non-renewable energy, thus undermining the 2040 deadline for decarbonising buildings.

The position paper proposes the following definition for fossil fuel boilers: “A heating system using, entirely or partly, for heat generation, solid, gaseous or liquid fuels of non-renewable origin or made using non-renewable energies.” This definition captures systems and units running on coal, oil or fossil gas, either pure or blended. Additionally, it includes hydrogen generated by nuclear or fossil fuels, as well as primary-sourced biomass.

Indoor fossil fuel use for cooking and heating has disastrous health, safety and climate consequences. A clear, unambiguous and ambitious definition of fossil fuel heating is the first step towards ensuring a robust regulatory framework that helps us achieve our decarbonisation goals. 

Read the position paper.

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