Flanders aims to bring forward the ban on heating with natural gas by one year, making electric heat pumps compulsory in new buildings from 2025 instead of 2026.
In the climate agreement of November 2021, the Flemish Government decided to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and promote environmentally friendly heating techniques. In practice, this means that a fuel oil boiler will no longer be allowed in new buildings from 2022; natural gas connections will not be permitted in new buildings from 2026.
"We are pleased that Flanders is now moving away from fossil fuels more quickly," said Flemish MP Robrecht Bothuyne for the Christiandemocrat CD&V party, alongside rightwing N-VA, and liberal Open VLD.
The war in Ukraine has fuelled the debate surrounding natural gas dependency. In an effort to liberate Belgium from Russian fossil fuels, Flanders wants to speed up the phasing out of natural gas. "This is a realistic step to accelerate de-fossilisation."
No transitional phase for hybrid heat pumps
The move will also see the planned transitional phase for hybrid heat pumps in new buildings scrapped. The Flemish Government had initially wanted to make a (hybrid) heat pumps mandatory in new builds from 2023.
But whilst these heat pumps – which run partly on electricity and partly on gas – had previously been considered the ideal transitional technology to replace the classic gas condensing boiler, calls to skip this transitional phase have now gained traction. As a result, the government is pushing for a direct transition to fully electric heat pumps.
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"Heat pumps or heat networks are the choice of common sense. Thanks to government support, this is now the most cost-efficient way to provide a home with heating, cooling and comfort," Bothuyne said. "This gives clarity to those who want to build and to the construction industry."