In Germany, the process of market area conversion – whereby private and industrial customers are switching from the use of low calorific gas (L-gas) to high calorific gas (H-gas) – has been underway since 2014. The changeover has become essential as the production of L-gas in the Netherlands is declining sharply and German customers will no longer be able to be supplied with L-gas in the foreseeable future. In order to switch to using H-gas, gas appliances in households, commercial and industrial enterprises must be adapted so that they can receive the new gas quality. In recent years, around 500,000 gas appliances have already been adapted, and around 400,000 more will be adapted this year.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) are increasingly being told that it is becoming more and more difficult to carry out the work to adapt appliances in households and commercial enterprises due to the current restrictions on daily life. Technicians are often unable to gain access to the gas appliances that need to be adapted and there has also been a significant rise in the number of sick days at the companies undertaking the adaptation work.
The Federal Government finds it understandable that many of the companies concerned now want to make changes to the process to reflect the realities of the current situation.
Legal responsibility for the market area conversion lies with the network operators. It is they who decide whether conversion measures should be postponed. Among the network operators, there are differing opinions depending on the individual region of Germany concerned. In some cases, these operators still consider it feasible and reasonable to undertake further adaptation work. However, some of them will now suspend this work for the time being.
From the Federal Government's point of view, it is reasonable for network operators to postpone the work to adapt gas appliances for the moment. It must, however, be ensured that in cases where this work has already begun, it is also completed in an orderly manner in order to ensure that end customers have a secure supply of gas at all times.
If a network area has already converted from L-gas to H-gas, the gas appliances must be adapted in a timely manner to ensure that they operate safely using the new gas quality. It goes without saying that technicians are required to observe the recommended health protection measures.