There are various ways to use renewable energy to heat a building and provide hot water. Here are a few examples:

  • Solar thermal energy: This is usually installed on the roof of a building and converts sunlight into heat. The system can cover part of the heat needed for hot water, e.g. for the shower, and possibly also some of the space heating.
  • Biomass: Examples include wood pellet or log boilers generating heat for heating and hot water.
  • Heat pump: A heat pump uses heat from the air, groundwater or the ground.

However, not all the ways to use renewable energy to provide heating are equally efficient. For this reason, the MAP only assists certain particularly efficient options (for more information, see "How much assistance is available for privately used installations?" or "How much assistance is available for commercially used installations?").

The MAP is a funding programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy which provides incentives to make greater use of renewable energy to generate heat: private consumers, members of the professions, companies, municipalities and other eligible parties such as non-profit organisations receive a grant from the state if they replace their old heating system with an efficient solar thermal installation, biomass installation or heat pump. 

More than 1.5 million systems have been funded via the MAP since 2000. Private consumers can find more information and application forms on the website of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control BAFA): See www.heizen-mit-erneuerbaren-energien.de. Businesses and municipalities using larger systems can find information on the website of the KfW.

Private home-owners, members of the professions, companies, municipalities and other eligible parties such as non-profit organisations. This does not apply to the Federal Government, the Länder and their agencies or manufacturers of eligible appliances (unless they are acting as contractors).

As of 1 January 2016, the "heating package" of the Energy Efficiency Incentive Programme has been added to the MAP. It is directed at anyone who wants to install a new heating system that uses renewable energy. To be eligible for funding, it is required that an outdated non-condensing oil or gas-fired heating boiler that is not yet subject to the obligation to replace boilers (Section10 of the Energy Saving Ordinance) is taken out of operation and that the entire heating system is properly adjusted and optimised, including the pipes, pumps and the heating systems. It is also possible to receive funding if the existing heating system is not replaced but modernised so that solar thermal energy is used, thereby optimising the overall system. In doing so, it is always ensured that the full energy savings potential of the new heating system can be leveraged. Furthermore, this also benefits the climate since the carbon emissions of the heating system will be reduced to a minimum. 

The heating package provides an additional bonus of twenty percent of the funding amount granted under the MAP and additional lump sum of 600 euros for optimising the entire heating system. 

Let’s take the following example: For a pellet boiler with a heat storage unit, MAP funding of at least €3,500 is provided. In addition, an extra bonus of 700 euros for installing a new heating boiler and the fixed amount of 600 euros for optimising the system will be granted. In the example shown, the heating package provides a total of 1,300 euros in additional funding.

The MAP only funds especially efficient installations which use renewable energy to generate heat: these are solar thermal installations, biomass installations and heat pumps. Precisely which installations are eligible can be seen (in German) on the website of the BAFA at www.heizen-mit-erneuerbaren-energien.de (under "Publikationen" in the specific field of technology). What system is best suited to a particular building should be clarified in advance by a qualified energy consultant (www.energie-effizienz-experten.de).

Private home-owners receive funding towards energy-efficient solar thermal installations, biomass installations (e.g. pellet boilers) and heat pumps. The level of funding varies depending on the installation:

  • For example, it is at least €2,000 for the first installation of a solar thermal system for combined hot water and space heating.
  • For a pellet boiler with a heat storage unit, for example, it is at least €3,500.
  • It is at least €4,000 for a geothermal pump or for combined hot water and space heating.

You can find more information about the funding on the website of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control BAFA) at www.heizen-mit-erneuerbaren-energien.de, or call the BAFA hotline on 06196 908-1625.

As the funding procedure will be amended as from 1 January 2018, there are two different ways of applying for funding.

1. If your heating system will be used by 31 December 2017, the procedure is as follows:

  • Choose an eligible heating system - preferably together with an energy consultant.
  • Have the system installed and start using it.
  • Download the appropriate application form from the BAFA website. The application forms for the respective technology can be found at www.heizen-mit-erneuerbaren-energien.de (in german): go to the section on the relevant technology and to “Formulare”.
  • Complete and sign the application form. Attach the declaration from the expert installing the system and attach documents such as invoices.
  • Submit the complete application to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) within nine months of the commissioning of the new heating system.

N.B. Exception: Applicants opting for a particularly efficient heat pump can also apply for additional innovation support. However, this application must be submitted before the system is installed. You can find out more on the website of the BAFA (in german).

2. If your heating system will not be used until after 31 December 2017, the application must be submitted before the installation is commissioned. The procedure is as follows:

  • Choose an eligible heating system - preferably together with an energy consultant.
  • Download the appropriate application form from the BAFA website. The application forms for the respective technology can be found at www.heizen-mit-erneuerbaren-energien.de (in greman): go to the section on the relevant technology and to “Formulare”.
  • Complete and sign the application form. Attach documentation, where requested, and submit the application to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA).
  • Have the system installed and start using it.
  • Submit the proof of use and the requested documents to the BAFA before the date specified in the letter of approval.

For more information about the amendments to the funding procedure, please contact the BAFA. The phone number for the Division responsible for the MAP is 06196 908-2156 or -2721.

Companies or municipalities which convert their heat generation to energy-efficient solar thermal installations, biomass installations or heat pumps can receive funding via the MAP. In the case of smaller systems, they can apply for investment grants from the BAFA, like private consumers. More information about investment grants for smaller systems is available from the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) at www.bafa.de/DE/Energie/energie_node.html or via the BAFA hotline at 06196 908-1625. 

However, many companies and municipalities tend to use larger systems. In such cases, they can obtain preferential loans from the KfW covering the cost of the investment, as well as repayment grants for these loans. The precise level of the repayment grants depends mainly on the type of installation and the level of investment.

  • There is a repayment grant at least 30% of the eligible net investment costs for the erection of a solar thermal installation.
  • Where biomass installations with a nominal heat output of more than 100 kilowatts are erected or expanded, a repayment grant of up to €50,000 per individual system is possible.
  • In the case of heat pumps, the repayment grant can also be up to €50,000 per individual system. Further to this, funding is available for the erection of a geothermal probe. Up to a depth of 400 metres, this amounts to €4 per metre, thereafter to €6 per metre.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) receive an additional 10% grant, i.e. their repayment grant is increased by another 10%. For example, instead of a repayment grant of €25,000, they receive one of €27,500. Further information about the KfW funding for larger-scale systems via preferential loans and repayment grants can be found here.

If you wish to apply for an investment grant, you should contact the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control directly before commencing your project. You can call the BAFA hotline on 06196 908-1625. The application forms for the respective technology can be found at www.heizen-mit-erneuerbaren-energien.de: go to the section on the relevant technology and to "Formulare".

The funding in the form of a preferential loan or repayment grant is provided via the KfW. You need to apply via your bank for the funding before commencement of the project. Your bank will then forward the application to the KfW, which examines whether the project is eligible. If your bank is given the go-ahead by the KfW, you can then conclude the loan agreement with your bank. Further information (in German) can be found here. If you wish to clarify questions by phone, contact the Infocenter of the KfW.

The funding available to expand existing or build new local heating networks is particularly interesting for municipalities and large companies. To be eligible for MAP funding, a certain percentage of the heat distributed by these networks must be renewables-based. The required percentage varies and depends on the energy sources of the heat and whether the heat is mainly going to existing or to new buildings. The funding consists of a repayment grant of up to €60 per metre, up to a maximum of €1 million. 

If you have further questions about preferential loans and repayment grants, please contact the KfW directly. If you wish to clarify questions by phone, contact the Infocenter of the KfW.

In principle, MAP funding can be combined with other government funding programmes, e.g. from the Länder, as long as maximum limits under EU law are not exceeded. 

For certain funding programmes - particularly the KfW programmes set up in the context of the CO2 building renovation programme - there are restrictions which prohibit cumulation if the same investment costs are to be assisted. But this rule only applies to the investment costs for the same measure. For example, the installation of a heating system which uses renewable energy can only be assisted once: either via the MAP or the “Energy-efficient refurbishment” KfW programme (loan: variant no. 151; grant; variant no. 430).

If funding towards the costs of replacing a heating system is claimed under the KfW’s "Energy-efficient refurbishment" programme, the same costs cannot also be funded via the MAP. But if, in the context of a comprehensive refurbishment of a building, not only the new heating system is installed but further measures are taken - e.g. the insulation of the building envelope or the replacement of the windows, etc. - funding can be claimed for this additional work from the KfW programme "Energy-efficient refurbishment", and at the same time the costs of installing e.g. a new pellet heating system can be funded via the MAP.

Private home-owners or companies interested in installing smaller systems can call the hotline of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA): 06196 908-1625. 

Businesses and municipalities interested in installing larger-scale systems (larger than 100 kilowatts of nominal heat output in the case of biomass installations and heat pumps) which have questions about preferential loans and repayment grants can contact the Infocenter of the KfW directly.

You can find contact details of local energy consultants at www.machts-effizient.de/expertenliste (in german).