Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, has launched a broad-based campaign to boost energy efficiency. This is a further step towards meeting Germany's ambitious climate targets and the decisions taken in Paris. Three core elements are crucial: support, advice and information. The measures include the launch of new funding programmes and are linked up to a broad PR campaign.
Minister Gabriel said: "The cleanest and cheapest energy is energy that is not used. This is a principle which needs not only to become firmly embedded in our energy policy, but also in the way each and every one of us thinks. Energy efficiency is everyone's responsibility, and it can only function if there are contributions across the board from government, businesses and individuals. Energy efficiency saves money and is also a wise economic policy. By investing in energy efficiency technologies, we are modernising our country, strengthening our innovative capacities and competitiveness, making ourselves less dependent on imports of raw materials and their price level, and safeguarding the future of our workforce by generating sustainable jobs.
If the energy transition is to be a success, we need a clear improvement in the level of energy efficiency. The expansion of renewable energy on its own will not be enough for us to meet the climate targets set out in the Energy Concept. We will also need a clear reduction in energy consumption. The goal is to consume as little energy as possible and to use renewables to cover the remaining needs. Specifically, the aim is to halve energy consumption by 2050 - this is an amount corresponding to the current total energy consumption of the Benelux countries and Austria. We have already achieved quite a lot. For example, Germany has one of the highest levels of energy productivity in Europe. Primary energy consumption has been cut significantly in recent years - by 8.3% between 2008 and 2014 (equivalent to the annual energy consumption of Portugal). We have broken the link between economic growth and energy consumption.
Since further measures are required, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has launched a broadbased campaign, providing more than €17 billion from 2016 to 2020 to promote energy efficiency. The Federal Government's National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency of December 2014 and its decisions on the further implementation of the energy transition of 1 July 2015 have defined the strategic orientation of its energy efficiency policy. The aim is to prioritise energy efficiency in the building sector, to establish energy efficiency as a profit and business model, and to increase individual responsibility for energy efficiency.
In order to achieve this, four new programmes have been launched as part of the campaign:
- the funding programme to avoid and use waste heat (launched on 1 May 2016);
- the programme to promote investment in highly efficient horizontal technologies (launched on 10 May 2016);
- Step up! - the competitive auction for efficiency measures in the electricity sector (launch in June 2016);
- the "Energy Savings Meter" pilot programme (launch: May 2016).
The efforts to use waste heat are focused on promoting investment in avoiding and using waste heat in companies. The funding for horizontal technologies takes a similar approach. Once again, investment cost grants are paid towards selected technologies, e.g. for efficient industrial pumps. The competitive auction model for efficiency measures in the electricity sector provides targeted support to investments which achieve the highest electricity savings for the least funding. The "Energy Savings Meter" pilot programme funds novel energy services and business models using digital meters.
In addition to this, all groups of consumers need to change their way of thinking. For this reason, the "Germany makes it efficient" PR campaign has also been launched. The campaign is aimed equally at private consumers, businesses and public-sector institutions. All groups of consumers are to be motivated to use heat and power as sparingly as possible. Energy efficiency pays off for everyone. At the same time, it does not imply going without, but rather means enjoying increased comfort and using the latest technologies.
The campaign is including those multipliers who are in direct contact with consumers, businesses and municipalities - the Länder, the business and municipal associations, the skilled craft associations and the trade unions.