The success of the renewable energy era rests squarely on the shoulders of heating industry professionals, Dr. Martin Viessmann told a packed room of international media March 12 during the ISH trade show in Frankfurt, Germany.
"The sustainable energy era can only succeed if energy efficiency is significantly increased," said Viessmann, who is owner, CEO and president of the supervisory board of the Viessmann Group manufacturing company. "We need to increase energy efficiency and the heating industry is the key to doing this. Many obsolete heating systems need additional subsidies for modernization of heating systems that are reliable."
The heating market accounts for 40% of energy consumption, making it the largest primary energy consumer, he said. Viessmann noted the weakness in 2014 of heating equipment sales, which shrank 3% in Europe and 4% in Germany.
He attributed this weakness to political concerns in the Ukraine and Middle East, a drop in energy prices and the lack of a climate policy in many countries.
"We have no climate policy on a global level to protect the environment," Viessmann said. "We need to urgently find a reliable and affordable energy supply."
The heating industry can offer solutions to the volatility that comes from generating electricity through renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, he said. This can be accomplished by developing storage for excess energy. He labeled two ways to do this as "power to gas" and "power to heat."
The first concept involves power from renewable energy being converted into hydrogen using electrolysis. Adding carbon dioxide to it results in synthetic methane, which then can be stored, transported via a nationwide gas network and used as energy.
Putting its money where its mouth is, Viessmann Group last year installed the world's first industrial-scale power-to-gas facility at its headquarters in Allendorf, Germany.
The power-to-heat concept involves decentralized, short-term energy storage in buildings with heat pumps installed. The heat pumps can be turned on when power is less expensive and energy demand is lower. The power can be transformed into heat very efficiently, stored in a buffer cylinder and later used to heat the building.
At its booth at ISH, Viessmann Group displayed a new line of hybrid heating systems. This equipment combines condensing and heat pump technologies into one compact unit. These models can use gas and oil as well as renewable energy.
"New concepts in self-generating power and its utilization, as well as decentralized energy storage, provide an enormously promising opportunity to ensure the sustainable energy era's success," Viessmann said.