Challenging times for heating engineers
The heating industry relies primarily on the heat pump in the course of conversions. However, industry experts are skeptical that six million heat pumps can be installed in Germany by 2030.
Mario Schunk is in a hurry. He is on his way to a customer early in the morning. Schunk runs a heating and air conditioning company in Neuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate. "The debate about the future of oil and gas heating has fueled business again. People are completely unsettled," says the 46-year-old master heating engineer as he makes his way to the village of Nauroth.
Many countries more attractive for skilled workers
According to a study, Germany is falling behind in the international competition for highly qualified specialists and start-up founders. The local universities, on the other hand, are considered to be very popular.
According to a study, Germany is losing popularity in the global competition for skilled workers and company founders. According to an evaluation by the Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany has fallen from 12th to 15th place among the 38 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since 2019.
The study evaluated the OECD Index "Indicators of Talent Attractiveness", which includes various factors that are important for skilled migrants. It was about professional opportunities, income and taxes, future prospects, opportunities for family members or visas.
Ban on new oil heating systems planned from 2024
The installation of new gas and oil heating systems could be gradually banned from 2024 - earlier than planned. According to media reports, this emerges from a draft law. There is criticism not only in the coalition.
In order to promote climate protection in the building sector as well, according to media reports, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Construction are working on a draft law for the gradual ban of gas and oil heating from 2024. According to the ministry, however, the draft is not yet final.
For many consumers, this would mean that they will have to look for an alternative over the next few years and may even have to completely modernize their heating system.
Heat pumps - but which ones?
Many homeowners want to have a heat pump installed. Six million units should be online in Germany by 2030. But is there enough electricity? It also depends on how efficient the pumps are.
Christian Lex and his colleagues are currently installing a new heat pump in Heidelberg. The company installs around 40 units a year, he says. But he gets around 15 inquiries from new customers every week. The demand is huge, and "due to the current energy crisis it has experienced a real boom".
Why there is confusion about heating
Pure gas and oil heating systems should no longer be allowed to be installed from 2024. The traffic light coalition had agreed on this. A legal regulation is still missing. Uncertainty is not only growing among consumers.
Against the background of the Ukraine war and the aggravated energy crisis, the switch to renewable energies in Germany should be accelerated. In the summer, the coalition committee of the SPD, FDP and Greens approved a concept paper with significantly stricter specifications for new heating systems.
According to this, newly commissioned heating systems are to be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energies from January 1, 2024. This regulation does not apply to existing heating systems - however, the permissible service life of purely fossil-based heating systems is to be gradually reduced to twenty years.
Record sales of e-cars
More electric cars than ever before were sold in Europe last year. Combustion engines still predominate, but the market for e-cars is growing continuously. What are the prospects for 2023?
Battery-powered vehicles achieved a market share of twelve percent when it came to new registrations in the EU last year. The proportion of purely electric cars rose by three percentage points to its highest level so far. Plug-in hybrids accounted for almost 23 percent, as the European industry association Acea announced today. Combustion engines still account for the largest share in car drives.
ECB raises key interest rate to 3 percent
In the eurozone, inflation has recently fallen. However, the ECB is a long way from its inflation target. Europe's currency watchdogs have therefore raised the key interest rate again by 0.5 percentage points - and announced the next increase.
In order to curb the high inflation in the euro area, the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to raise interest rates again. The key interest rate in the euro zone will rise by 0.5 percentage points to 3 percent, the currency watchdogs announced this today after their monetary policy meeting in Frankfurt. It is the fifth rise in interest rates in a row. The central bank last hiked interest rates by 0.5 percentage points in December. The interest rate in the euro zone has thus risen to its highest level since the end of 2008.
Who benefits from the upward trend in the euro
The euro is trading at its highest level against the dollar since April 2022. And there seems to be no end to the trend in sight. The resurgent euro is good news, at least for consumers.
The European common currency will celebrate a small renaissance in 2023. It's not even that long ago that one euro paid less than one dollar. In September last year, the European single currency marked its lowest level in 20 years at $0.9538.
It remained below dollar parity until the beginning of November. Since then, however, the euro has been able to catch up. The day before, the euro rose to $ 1.0929, the highest it has been since April 2022. Starting from the September low, this corresponds to an increase of more than 14 percent.
Producer prices are falling slowly
Producer prices fell for the third time in a row compared to the previous month. The development gives experts hope that the inflation dynamic could also weaken.
There are increasing signs that the high inflation in Germany is easing: Manufacturers lowered their prices in December for the third month in a row. The producer prices for commercial products fell by an average of 0.4 percent in December 2022 compared to November 2022, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office.
"It looks more and more as if the inflation peak is behind us," said chief economist Alexander Krüger from the Hauck Aufhäuser Lampe private bank. "Producer prices continue to send the signal of decreasing price pressures," he commented. This increases confidence that consumer prices will soon fall.
Location Germany increasingly unattractive
According to a study by the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW), Germany is losing competitiveness compared to 20 other leading economic nations. In the new "Country Index for Family Businesses" the Federal Republic occupies 18th place among the 21 countries. In 2020, Germany was still in 14th place. It is the ninth edition of the biennial analysis commissioned by the Foundation for Family Businesses. The top of the ranking is the USA, behind Germany are only Hungary, Spain and Italy.
According to the study, Germany can hardly keep up with top locations in North America, Western Europe and Scandinavia. "While other countries are investing in infrastructure or reforming their tax systems, Germany is making no progress. The only clear asset is the comparatively low level of public and private debt."
Inflation in the euro area continues to fall
Inflation in the eurozone eased further towards the end of the year. Consumer prices rose by 9.2 percent, less than expected. The core inflation rate, on the other hand, increased.
Inflation in the eurozone eased more than expected in December. Consumer prices rose by 9.2 percent compared to the same month last year, according to an initial estimate from the statistics office Eurostat. Economists had expected an average rate of 9.5 percent in December. In November, the inflation rate was still 10.1 percent.
Why the gas price is falling
European trading prices for natural gas continue to relax. What can the recently agreed EU gas price cap do - and what are the prospects for the supply situation?
There is good news coming from the Dutch energy exchange these days: the gas price is falling. On Wednesday, the futures contract TTF, which is trend-setting for European gas trading, fell at times by more than eight percent to less than 100 euros per megawatt hour. Today, the contract for delivery in January was even quoted at less than 91 euros.
Inexpensive - or rather safe?
After months of dispute, the EU energy ministers want to agree today on a Europe-wide gas price cap. Germany is hoping for the highest possible upper limit in order to minimize the risk of a supply gap.
In the meantime, it seems more or less a foregone conclusion that the European Union will introduce a gas price cap for all member countries - a politically fixed maximum price, so to speak, that people in the EU are willing to pay for natural gas and liquefied natural gas. In practice, this means that if gas suppliers on the world market demand more than this maximum price, i.e. ignore this price cap, then nobody in the EU is allowed to buy this gas.
EU tightens action against China at WTO
The EU is moving ahead with its proceedings against China before the World Trade Organization. It's about patent protection for European high-tech companies and Chinese trade restrictions against Lithuania. In the end there could be punitive tariffs.
The EU is stepping up its crackdown on China at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU Commission called on the WTO to set up two so-called panels, i.e. dispute settlement bodies. The background is, on the one hand, China's attempts to prevent European high-tech companies from enforcing their patent rights. On the other hand, it is about trade restrictions that Beijing issued after a diplomatic dispute against the EU country Lithuania.
In both cases, the Chinese measures are "extremely damaging" for European companies, the EU Commission said. It is in the economic and strategic interest of the EU for the measures to be lifted.
A quarter less gas demand
Although temperatures have recently fallen significantly, the EU demanded significantly less natural gas in November than in previous years. Saving efforts and the search for alternative energy sources are evidently having an effect.
The member states of the European Union significantly reduced their demand for natural gas in November, despite the recent wintry temperatures. Preliminary data from the commodities analysts ICIS show that gas demand in the EU countries last month was around 24 percent below a five-year average, as it was in October. This is reported by the "Financial Times".
"The Estonians are resilient"
Estonia is suffering from record inflation of more than 20 percent. But the attitude of many people in the country is characterized by perseverance - and solidarity with the Ukrainians.
Maarja Tinn's family doesn't let the fun be taken away from them. When she prepares the food in the kitchen with her husband Aron and their three children, there is a lot of laughter. Four-year-old Teodor is just allowed to prepare the omelette. The family used to like to order something for lunch. But meanwhile the family coffers have become emptier, says Maarja. They even notice that with the omelette. Because the prices in Estonia have skyrocketed.
EU Commission expects recession
In view of the consequences of the Ukraine war, the EU Commission assumes only minimal economic growth in the euro zone for 2023. At the end of the year, she even expects a recession.
Because of the energy crisis resulting from the Ukraine war, the EU Commission is anticipating hardly any economic growth in the coming year - albeit with lower inflation than last time. The gross domestic product (GDP) in the euro area is only likely to increase by 0.3 percent in 2023, the Brussels authorities announced today in their autumn economic forecast. In the summer, the EU had estimated 1.4 percent.
For the final quarter of 2022, the Commission even assumes that the euro zone and most of its members will slip into recession. GDP is likely to continue shrinking in early 2023. An economy is in what is known as a technical recession when GDP falls for two consecutive quarters.
Protection against dismissal and emergency aid
The report presented by the "Gas and Heat Expert Commission" proposes, among other things, protection against dismissal for tenants and an emergency aid fund for the needy. Saving energy should be rewarded.
The "Gas and Heat Expert Commission" set up by the federal government presented a 34-page report in Berlin to relieve companies and private households. The proposals are intended to help compensate for the rising energy bills in 2022 and to bridge the time until the planned introduction of the gas price brake next spring. The main focus is on protection against evictions for tenants and emergency aid funds for needy households.
What are the consequences of the combustion engine shutdown?
From 2035, only zero-emission vehicles will be registered in the EU. What does the decision mean for drivers and what happens to the combustion engines? Answers to the most important questions.
The EU member states and the European Parliament have reached an agreement: From the year 2035, only climate-neutral vehicles should be registered. New petrol and diesel cars that emit greenhouse gases can then no longer be sold.
After the environment ministers had already committed themselves to this in June, a final agreement was reached within the EU yesterday. The negotiators agreed that the so-called fleet limits for cars should drop to zero by 2035. They tell car manufacturers how much CO2 the vehicles they produce are allowed to emit during operation.
Germany falls behind when it comes to saving gas
According to figures from the European Commission, Germany has recently made slower progress than other EU countries in saving natural gas. The voluntary target to reduce consumption was missed in September.
In a European comparison, Germany has recently saved proportionately less gas than other countries. Although the Federal Republic consumed 28 percent less natural gas in August - compared to the average of the last five years in the month. However, according to data from the EU Commission, consumption in September was only 7.4 percent lower. By contrast, Sweden more than halved its gas consumption in both months. The Netherlands used 28.9 and 32.2 percent less gas, respectively.
The Baltic States, Luxembourg, Romania and Finland also saved proportionally more. Across the European Union, consumption fell by 14 percent in August and by 15 percent in September.
Difficult to understand district heating prices
Although district heating providers are legally obliged to do so, almost one in five providers does not publish any prices on the Internet. Consumer advocates are calling for a tougher approach to the industry.
The text in the District Heating Ordinance is unequivocal: the utility companies must "publish all price regulations, price adjustment clauses and price components in an accessible manner on the Internet". Actually a matter of course, after all, every gas and electricity customer can quickly find out about current prices with a mouse click. However, the district heating industry still seems to have a lot of catching up to do. This is shown by an extensive sample from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv), which is available to HR.
World trade is growing faster than expected
Despite many disruptive factors, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has increased its forecast for world trade this year. German export figures are also increasing. By 2023 at the latest, however, this should look different.
Cooling economy, rising interest rates and the energy crisis as a result of the Ukraine war: Despite numerous shock waves, world trade is growing surprisingly faster this year than assumed in spring. The World Trade Organization (WTO) now expects growth in the volume of goods trade of 3.5 percent for 2022, as it reported today in Geneva. In her forecast in April, she had only assumed 3.0 percent.
Inflation in the euro area at ten percent
Inflation is at its highest level in the euro area. In September, the inflation rate rose to 10.0 percent for the first time since the introduction of the euro. The main reason for this is the ever-increasing energy prices.
For the first time, the inflation rate in the euro area has reached a double-digit value. Driven by a sustained surge in energy prices, consumer prices in September were 10.0 percent higher than a year ago, according to an initial estimate from the European statistics office Eurostat.
This is the highest level of inflation since the introduction of the euro. Analysts had expected an inflation rate of 9.7 percent. In August, the inflation rate was still 9.1 percent. That too was a record.
The highest inflation rates within the euro zone were recorded in the three Baltic states in September, where consumer prices were more than 20 percent higher than a year ago. For Germany, Eurostat gave the inflation rate at 10.9 percent - due to a different calculation method , the value is higher than the inflation rate of 10.0 percent given yesterday by the Federal Statistical Office .
Where inflation is highest
There has never been nearly eight percent inflation since reunification. Compared to other countries, however, Germany is not in such a bad position. An overview of the global leaders.
Prices are rising almost everywhere in the world. The global inflation rate for the current year is estimated at an average of 7.7 percent, according to the Economic Experts Survey (EES). According to the survey by the Ifo Institute and the Institute for Swiss Economic Policy with participants from over 100 countries, the expected inflation is around five percentage points above the average rate reported by the World Bank over the past decade. However, there are sometimes significant regional differences in inflation. Some states are even struggling with three-digit rates. Where are the prices particularly high? And what are the reasons for this?
Car market in Europe is growing again
After more than a year, the number of car registrations in the European Union is increasing again. In August, 4.4 percent more new cars were registered than in the previous year.
For the first time in 13 months, car manufacturers in the EU delivered more new cars in August than a year ago. Around 650,000 new cars were registered last month, an increase of 4.4 percent, the European manufacturers' association ACEA announced today. As recently as July, the number of passenger cars had declined by 10.4 percent, despite the already low comparative period.
Skim off "random profits" - but how?
Because of the high gas prices, most energy producers are currently making a lot of money. Politicians want to collect these extra profits. But how is that supposed to work in practice? And where are the pitfalls?
Italy, Spain, Hungary and Great Britain have pushed ahead: they are already limiting the extra profits of the energy sector in different ways. Now Germany and the other EU countries want to follow suit: At their meeting on Friday, the energy ministers of the EU countries approved a profit cap for electricity producers . The EU Commission is to present concrete proposals by mid-September.
All registers against high prices
Saving energy is the order of the day, and many countries in Europe have introduced savings measures. But the EU Commission wants a uniform approach. What could that look like?
From 7 p.m. the lights in Brussels' public buildings are to go out, and heating is allowed to a maximum of 19 degrees. These were the Belgian government's proposals this week to reduce electricity consumption.
How to proceed with heating
The federal government is planning much stricter rules for heating replacement: From 2024, every new heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy. What does this mean for property owners?
In the Franconian city of Bamberg, an entire district is being developed - 100-year-old buildings next to new buildings. The special thing about this district in Bamberg is the heating concept, says Michael Fiedeldey, Managing Director of Stadtwerke Bamberg, and Federal Minister for Building, Klara Geywitz. The SPD politician recently visited the construction project.
"We're able to generate between 70 and 80 percent of the energy that this heterogeneous district needs here from renewable sources. That's exemplary," says Fiedeldey. In the new heating concept, he relies primarily on large heat pumps. For example, they use the heat from the Bamberg sewage network. In addition, large geothermal collectors are distributed throughout the site. These are tubes in the ground that collect the heat there for the heat pump.
Who makes the heat pumps?
In the next few years, millions of heat pumps are to be installed in Germany. Who are the manufacturers in the market? And how can you meet the high demand?
According to the ambitious goal of the Ministry of Economics, there should be six million heat pumps in Germany by 2030. According to the Federal Heat Pump Association, only 154,000 heating heat pumps were sold nationwide last year - that was still 28 percent more than in 2020. The figures for the current year are likely to be significantly higher.
In order to achieve the goal, all manufacturers have to increase their production capacities significantly. Just four years ago, the global size of the heat pump market was almost 55 billion dollars. Depending on the estimate, it could swell to $95 billion to $100 billion by 2026.
There are currently a large number of heat pump manufacturers in Germany. The best known and largest include Bosch Thermotechnik, Stiebel Eltron, Vaillant and Viessmann. But there are also many smaller and less well-known companies that build heat pumps.
Other EU countries are leading the way
Many energy companies are benefiting from the current high prices. Some EU countries such as Spain or Belgium are therefore introducing excess profit tax for corporations. In Germany, there is still a heated debate about this.
These figures speak for themselves: the big energy companies have been able to boost their profits sharply in recent months - BP 's net profit has tripled, as have oil giants Chevron and Exxon; others have doubled their plus. The Ukraine war and the ever-scarcer supply of energy around the world are evidently allowing such companies to see their income spurt all over the world.
Associations warn against heating with fan heaters
Gas is getting more and more expensive. So heat the apartment next winter with electrically powered heaters instead? Not a good idea, say consumer advocates - and warn of cost traps and overloaded power grids.
Despite the gas crisis, consumers should not switch to electric fan heaters in winter - despite the high gas prices, it is by no means financially worthwhile, warn consumer advocates, the Federal Network Agency and the energy industry.
"You don't save money with fan heaters, on the contrary, you drive up the electricity bill," said Ramona Pop, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Consumer Centers, to the editorial network Germany.
How the EU countries should save gas
Market instruments and regulation of the temperature in public buildings: In preparation for a possible gas crisis, the EU Commission presented its gas emergency plan today. An overview.
Concerned about a possible gas shortage in autumn or winter, the EU Commission has officially proposed its European Gas Contingency Plan to reduce gas demand . It contains a number of measures that could be used to react to a complete stop in supplies from Russia to the European Union. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen thinks such a scenario is likely. "We must prepare for a possible total disruption of Russian gas supplies," the German politician told a press conference in Brussels today. Twelve member states are already not being supplied with gas at all or only to a limited extent.
If necessary, only 19 degrees in the office
Next week, the EU Commission will present its draft gas emergency plan. Among other things, it contains recommended maximum temperatures for heating public and commercial buildings. An overview.
The EU Commission is working on a gas emergency plan. It contains a number of measures to react to a possible gas shortage in autumn or winter. At the same time, recommendations and steps are planned to prevent supply bottlenecks or to minimize their effects. "If we act now, the impact of a sudden supply disruption could be reduced by a third," says the first draft, from which several news agencies quote.
The EU Commission will officially present its draft next week. But a number of details have already become known in advance, even if changes are still possible before the official presentation.
Where things are going better in Europe
Queues, lack of staff and crowds of customers: Many German airports have problems during the holiday season. There are similar difficulties elsewhere in Europe - but not everywhere.
The lack of staff at airports, ground service providers, security companies and airlines is currently causing chaotic conditions at German airports. Waiting times, mountains of luggage, delays and flight cancellations are the result. The airlines, which were actually targeting the pre-crisis level due to the strong demand for vacation and travel, are now taking massive flights from the program in order to stabilize processes at the airports.
There are currently problems at the airports not only in Germany. These difficulties can be observed across Europe. But especially in southern Europe, operations at the major airports are going much better, according to a survey by the German Press Agency.
ECB could take stronger action against inflation
Europe's currency watchdogs are braving themselves against the enormous inflation. ECB boss Lagarde is now signaling that faster and larger interest rate hikes than previously planned are also conceivable if inflation accelerates.
At the annual conference of the European Central Bank in Sintra, Portugal, ECB President Christine Lagarde announced that monetary authorities might take tougher action against rising consumer prices.
"If the inflation outlook doesn't improve, we will have enough information to act faster," Lagarde said at the meeting today. "Given the general outlook, the process of normalizing our monetary policy will continue in a resolute and sustained manner."
"The Basis for a New Trade Policy"
The provisional CETA trade agreement between the EU and Canada has long been controversial, especially among the Greens. Now the mood has changed. The traffic light coalition wants to get CETA through the Bundestag soon so that it can be ratified.
Ratification of the EU's interim CETA trade agreement with Canada is drawing near. The factions of the SPD, Greens and FDP want to pass the ratification law before the summer break, and the Bundestag should also soon get a chance. This was announced by representatives of the three coalition factions in Berlin.
To do this, however, they want to make improvements to the agreement that has already been negotiated. According to Green Party leader Katharina Dröge, this involves, for example, the regulations on investor arbitration courts, which should be "defused". These bodies are designed to deal with complaints from investors. However, corporations should not be able to use these instruments in such a way that they could put pressure on environmental regulations, said Dröge.
China's reputation with EU companies is suffering
China is becoming less and less attractive for European companies. According to a survey by the European Chamber of Commerce, the greatest burden for companies is the tough corona measures.
The past year has been good financially for European companies in China. But the war in Ukraine and the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in China changed course. In a survey by the European Chamber of Commerce, almost two-thirds of the companies stated that doing business in China had become more difficult.
How low can the euro sink?
Speculations about sharp rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve are driving the dollar. Even parity between the euro and the US currency cannot be ruled out. What does this mean for the eurozone economy?
The world's leading currency, the dollar, is becoming more and more expensive, while the euro has fallen to its lowest level in almost a month at times at 1.0474 dollars. About a year ago, the common currency was quoted at more than 1.20 dollars.
The reason for the current weakness of the euro is the current US inflation figures: the rate of inflation for goods and services there rose to 8.6 from 8.3 percent in May. Experts are therefore now expecting the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to tighten monetary policy at a rapid pace to combat inflation.
"Inflation hasn't peaked, it's not even stagnating. It's still accelerating, and it's likely to do so in June," said Aneta Markowska, a financial markets expert at investment bank Jefferies. "The inflation data is a tipping point, forcing the Fed to shift into higher gear and speed up monetary tightening."
Burner ban - who is nervous, who is relaxed?
No new cars with combustion engines from 2035: This goal of the European Parliament is causing very different reactions in the EU countries. Why? A look at Poland, Greece and Spain shows this.
The majority of MEPs want to ban the sale of cars and vans with combustion engines from 2035. Even if the decision is not yet binding because it can only come into force after an agreement has been reached with the governments of the EU countries, it is causing reactions in the various countries, some of which are violent.
A look at selected European countries shows why some are now very worried and others are shrugging their shoulders at the planned EU requirements.
Euro inflation rises above eight percent
Inflation in the euro area is higher than ever. The inflation rate in May was 8.1 percent in the countries with the common currency. Energy remains the number one price driver.
The surge in energy prices is driving inflation in the euro area to a record high. Goods and services cost an average of 8.1 percent more in May than a year ago, according to an initial estimate by the statistics office Eurostat. Economists surveyed by the Reuters news agency had only expected 7.7 percent.
The inflation rate is more than four times higher than the target of the European Central Bank (ECB), which aims at 2.0 percent as the optimal level for the economy. In March and April, inflation in the currency area was 7.4 percent.