Original article (in Slovenian) was published on 19/01/2024; Author: Tina Geč
The draft amendments to the Energy Act would restrict wood heating in dense settlements and ban the installation of natural gas and petroleum gas boilers in new residential buildings.
On 5 January, Aleksander Reberšek, an MP for the New Slovenia (NSi), an opposition party, claimed on Facebook that the government is planning a blanket ban on the heating of residential buildings with solid fuels, especially wood biomass. He illustrated his point by posting a photo of wood burning, accompanied by the comment, “The government would like to ban wood and natural gas heating.”
On 7 December of the previous year, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, and Energy presented a proposal for an amendment to the Energy Act. This proposal, submitted for government consideration, aims to prioritize the use of renewable energy sources and facilitate the transition towards a low-carbon society.
Article 22 of the draft amendment outlines a prohibition on installing boilers powered by natural gas or petroleum gas in new residential buildings. However, building would still be allowed to install them provided they submit the appropriate project documentation.
The ministry clarified to Razkrinkavanje.si that valid reasons for opting for a natural gas or petroleum gas boiler installation encompass considerations such as the potential impact of emissions on air quality, soil, or the surrounding vicinity. Technical constraints of the buildings, like their design, function, and proximity to available energy sources, also play a role in this decision-making process. Furthermore, the ministry noted that individuals currently using gas for heating purposes would be permitted to continue doing so.
Under the proposed amendment, other renewable and low-carbon energy sources such as heat pumps will be prioritized over wood biomass as the primary source of heating in dense settlements.
Should the bill be adopted, municipalities will be granted a three-year period from its effective date to identify the priority energy sources in accordance with Article 22 of the amendment. Additionally, this article stipulates that municipalities have the authority to prioritize or limit the use of certain energy sources, but only within specific zones, structures, or installations.
Prior to responding to inquiries from Razkrinkavanje.si, the Ministry of the Environment issued a press release clarifying that the limitation on wood heating would only be enforced in densely populated areas where air quality is of concern. They further noted that the utilization of wood biomass is still encouraged in less densely populated areas and as a supplementary heating source, such as for fireplaces or cooking purposes.
The criteria for identifying a densely populated area will be established by the minister, as dictated by the relevant article in the amendments. This determination will consider various factors, including the demand for such heating, the types of available energy technologies, the density of population or buildings, geographic features, prevailing wind conditions, and other local environmental factors.
We have notified the NSi parliamentary group about our findings and will publish their response upon receiving it.
The claim that the government intends to ban wood heating in residential buildings altogether is manipulative. The intention is to impose restrictions, not a complete ban.
The claim that the government would ban natural gas heating is equally manipulative. The draft amendment does provide for a ban on the installation of natural gas boilers, but only in new residential buildings. Moreover, the prohibition would not apply if the owner of the building duly justified in the project documentation the need to install such a boiler.