Folder labeled with energy efficiency, before money and requests for guarantees for energy efficiency projects; Source: Fotolia.com/made_by_nana Enlarge

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As of January 2016, the 16 guarantee banks will be offering easier and wider access to guarantees for energy-efficiency contractors. In part, this has been made possible by the federation and the Länder. The maximum amount for which guarantees can be issued will be raised to €2 million (from the current €1.25million) for projects that deliver energy savings of at least 25 per cent compared to the status quo.

Matthias Machnig, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, explains: "If contractors respond to their customers' requests to have their boilers or lighting systems replaced, they will be helping to reduce energy costs and cut carbon emissions. This serves both our economy and our environment, which is why we decided that we wanted to use our National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency to foster the use of energy-efficiency contracting. I am delighted that we have been able to work with the Länder and the guarantee banks to remove specific obstacles that have so far been in the way of this instrument, particularly where smaller projects are concerned. The changes upon which we have agreed will make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, to develop business models that allow them to turn a profit on energy-efficiency projects".

"Guarantees are a tried-and-tested instrument here. This is due to the fact that they open up access to financing. The federation and the Länder have raised the maximum amount for which guarantees on contracting projects can be issued. This means that companies that use contractors for their energy-efficiency products and services will find it easier to gain access to this lucrative market. The energy agencies are also involved. Their expertise will make sure that we will actually see major energy savings being delivered", says Guy Selbherr, Chair of the Association of German guarantee banks (VDB).

The Federal Government, the Länder governments and the guarantee banks have agreed to provider easier and wider access to guarantees for projects that are based on contracting. In future, the guarantee banks will use a standardised procedure to process applications. For instance, they have drawn up a template for a contracting agreement for small companies and crafts firms. This will give small and medium-sized companies better access to financing for contracting projects in the field of energy efficiency. Furthermore, it will make it easier for these companies to act as contractors and sell their services in this way.

Guarantees can be provided either for investment loans taken out by small or medium-sized firms (e.g. crafts firms or engineering firms specialising in buildings technology that act as energy-efficiency contractors and therefore pre-finance efficiency projects) or for aval guarantees for the benefit of the contractor or the contractor's customer. Applications can be submitted as of January 2016.

Energy-efficiency contracting is an instrument whereby the contractor identifies possible energy-efficiency measures to his customer, pre-finances these measures and puts them into practice. Furthermore, the contractor will guarantee that the measures will reduce energy costs by a pre-defined amount over several years. The money saved by the customer is what the contractor gets in return for the services provided. This system allows for considerable improvements on energy performance - without costing customers any extra money. Contractors can use the guarantees provided by the guarantee banks to pre-finance their investments linked to the efficiency measures.

For additional information, please contact the Association of German guarantee banks (Ms Nina Gosslau: gosslau@vdb-info.de) or go to www.vdb-info.de and www.contracting-buergschaft.de.