Back to the project overview

Decentralised heat supply in a climate-neutral Germany


Stiftung Klimaneutralität



PDF herunterladen

Our assignment

The “Climate-neutral Germany 2045” scenario (KNDE2045) shows a possible path to achieving climate neutrality by 2045. The main results are a significantly higher power consumption (+70 percent) due to the increasing use of electricity, including for heating and transport, and a significantly higher peak generation (+300 percent), due to the significant expansion of renewable electricity generation.

In 2045, 14 million heat pumps in Germany will be part of the solution for the building sector. For the Climate Neutrality Foundation, our energy system simulation team classifies the role of the heat pump as opposed to hydrogen heating in decentralised heat generation based on the KNDE2045 scenario.

The analysis focuses on the following two aspects:  

  1. Does a power system with a high proportion of renewable energies and a significantly higher electricity demand also require significantly higher dispatchable power plant capacitry?  

    This question could be answered with the already published scenario Climate Neutral Deutschland 2045 (KNDE2045): the required dispatchable power plant capacity increases by about 20 percent. Compared to today's excess capacity, the net result is even a decrease in the necessary controllable output. The increasing number of flexible consumers can integrate the RES supply with their storage capacities and delay the demand for electricity. In combination with imports, the increase in maximum residual load thus remains low.
  2. Could the use of hydrogen heaters instead of heat pumps be suitable for reducing residual load and thus increasing the efficiency of the system as a whole?

    Hydrogen heating makes the path to climate neutrality more difficult to achieve, results show. Hydrogen heating makes the entire system more inefficient because hydrogen demand is significantly increased, and the integration of renewable energies is less efficient.

The study highlights the central role of heat pumps as part of these flexible consumers in a renewable electricity system. Heat pumps offer two main advantages: firstly, they generate the majority of their heating energy from environmental heat. Secondly, with the thermal storage mass from buildings and heating circuit buffer storage, they will offer flexibility in power demand. "This allows more renewable electricity to be used, and less electricity to be curtailed", explains Hans Dambeck, project manager of the study.

How we proceed

In the analysis, a sensitivity of scenario KNDE2045 was modelled, in which the number of electric heat pumps was reduced from 14 to 13 million and the electricity requirement is thus reduced by nine percent. The results of the hourly modelling in the Prognos electricity market model compared with the base scenario KNDE2045 were used to draw conclusions about the influence of the heat pumps.  

"The reduced power consumption only leads to a lesser extent to a reduction in electricity generation from controllable hydrogen power plants. The other part is due to a higher curtailment of the RES-electricity and a reduced import balance. The required guaranteed performance hardly drops, by only 0.2 GW”, describes Aurel Wünsch, analyst of the electricity market modelling.

The use of 1 million hydrogen heaters, on the other hand, leads to a hydrogen requirement around twice as high as the need to protect 1 million heat pumps with hydrogen power plants in the power system.

As a result, hydrogen is used much more efficiently for dispatchable powerplantsbalancing a renewable power system with heat pumps than in decentralised heating systems. Heat pumps can significantly increase flexibility for the integration of the RES-electricity and the use of environmental heat. For these reasons, they are a central building block for a climate-neutral Germany.

Links and Downloads

To the study (PDF, in German)

To the policy paper (PDF, in German)

More information (website Stiftung Klimaneutralität)

The “Climate-neutral Germany 2045” scenario

Project team

Hans Dambeck, Aurel Wünsch, Marco Wünsch, Miriam Lovis

Do you have questions?

Your contact at Prognos

Hans Dambeck

Project Manager

View profile

Aurel Wünsch


View profile

Marco Wünsch


View profile

Mehr Studien & Projekte zu diesem Thema

International potential analysis of hydrogen technology for mobility solutions

| Project

Hydrogen is considered a future source of energy in the transport sector. Prognos determined the framework conditions for hydrogen technologies in important international markets.

Comparison of the "Big 5" climate neutrality scenarios

| Project

Transparency in the climate neutrality debate. A comparison of the "Big 5" climate neutrality scenarios.

ADAC Mobility Index: Survey of Sustainable Mobility in Germany

| Project update

For the first time, we have created a scientifically based data basis for the sustainable development of mobility in Germany for the ADAC - the result is the ADAC Mobility Index.

Target paths to meet the climate goals in transport

| Project

Which policy measures are required to achieve the 2030 climate targets for transport? Prognos answers these questions for environmental association, Transport & Environment, in “Target paths for transport.”

Prospects of the railway line Amsterdam – Noord Netherlands – Hamburg

| Project

How would the expansion of the rail link between Amsterdam, Noord Netherlands and Hamburg affect socio-economic development? On behalf of the North Netherlands Region, we assessed the potentials.

Green Finance's contribution on the way to climate neutrality

| Project

On the way to climate neutrality, green finance gains importance. For the first time, the total climate protection investments required to achieve the climate targets in Germany have been quantified by Prognos.

The future of construction

| Project

For the building industry, climate protection is moving into the centre. Because it is one of the largest consumers of resources and energy. Study for the Future Council of the vbw.

City life of the future

| Project

Prognos is part of the consortium of the BMI programme Model Projects Smart Cities (MPSC).

Innovation & Technology Centre for hydrogen

| Project

The BMDV (Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport) wants to promote an innovation and technology centre for hydrogen. Prognos and their partner evaluate the concepts of four German regions and conduct feasibility studies.

Technical CO2 sinks

| Project

To achieve climate neutrality, CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere. Prognos prepared an expert report on technical CO2 sinks for dena.

About us

Prognos – Providing Orientation.

Prognos is one of the oldest economic research centres in Europe. Founded at the University of Basel, Prognos experts have been conducting research for a wide range of clients from the public and private sectors since 1959 – politically independent, scientifically sound.

Learn more