France will end government subsidies for the installation of new residential gas heaters and increase support for renewable energy heating, the environment minister announced on Wednesday, in an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on Russian fossil fuel exports.
France wants to end its imports of Russian gas and oil by 2027 as part of a government “resilience plan” aimed at assisting households and businesses dealing with the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
France will reform its “MaPrimeRenov” subsidy scheme to accelerate the replacement of fossil fuel-fired heaters with renewable heating such as heat pumps and biomass heaters, including hybrid systems, in order to reduce gas demand.
From April 15 to the end of 2022, it will increase the subsidy for “virtuous” residential heating by 1,000 euros ($1,102) and eliminate subsidies for new gas heater installations.
“In order to discourage people from remaining reliant on gas, support for new gas heater installations will be discontinued,” environment minister Barbara Pompili said at a press conference.
She added that by combining the renovation premium with other government support measures such as energy certificates, households — especially low-income families — will benefit by replacing fossil fuel-fired heaters with renewable energy systems.
“In the long run, we want to wean ourselves from Russian fossil energy and from fossil energy overall,” she said.
The market for heat pumps — which use electricity to extract calories from the air or the ground — has been growing quickly across Europe in recent years.
According to the European Heat Pump Association, heat pumps will account for more than 25% of annual sales in a total heater market of 7 million units by 2021, with heat pumps quickly becoming the standard solution for new buildings and increasingly being used for renovations.
Residential heating electrification is a key component of European Union policies to decarbonize Europe’s buildings.
France will also provide 150 million euros in new support through its state environment and energy agency ADEME to assist companies and municipalities in switching to renewable heating, specifically by switching heat networks to biomass.