Workers viewing a monitor in a factory. Symbolises energy consulting and funding for companies.

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Funding energy audits for SMEs

Before investments are made in new technologies or company buildings, it makes sense to carry out an energy audit funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Energy audits provide companies with specific suggestions for commercially rational measures to boost energy efficiency. SMEs can receive a grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy that covers 80% of their energy auditing costs, with the maximum amount set at €6,000. For smaller companies that spend less than €10,000 on their energy bills, the maximum amount is €1,200.

The current rules for funding energy audits for SMEs can be found (in German) here.

You can find trained energy consultants all around Germany in the list of energy efficiency experts for federal funding programmes at (in German).

SME Initiative for Energy Reforms and Climate Protection

As Germany transforms its energy supply as part of its energy transition policy, SMEs are facing a number of big challenges, but also new opportunities. The SME Initiative for Energy Reforms and Climate Protection aims to help SMEs as they implement the energy transition. It is run by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts.

The SME Initiative for Energy Reforms and Climate Protection has met with a very positive response. It is therefore being continued over the 2016-2018 period and opened to an even larger number of companies, associations and energy auditors. More information on the initiative can be found here (in German).

Energy efficiency and process heat from renewable energy

The Economic Affairs Ministry’s “Energy efficiency and process heat from renewable energy in industry” funding programme, which was launched on 1 January 2019, offers support for companies, professional service providers and municipal companies investing in new, energy-efficient technologies. In order to take account of the differing needs for funding in specific companies, businesses can choose between a grant which can be applied for from the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, and a low-interest loan with partial debt forgiveness (repayment grant) provided via the KfW. You can find an overview of the funding programme here (in German).

Module 1: cross-cutting technologies
Cross-cutting technologies are used in many different ways in all sorts of sectors. Conveyor belts need compressed air, ventilation systems cool machinery, pumps keep industrial production going. A lot of energy is consumed, and in many cases too much is wasted. There are many tried-and-trusted energy-efficient alternatives when it comes to cross-cutting technologies. In order to promote the widespread use of these technologies, the Economic Affairs Ministry funds investment to replace existing or to purchase new installations and units for industrial and commercial use, funding 30% of the eligible costs. Small and medium-sized enterprises receive 40% funding.

Module 2: process heat from renewable energy
Renewable energy can already be used in many sectors and fields of application to provide the necessary process heat. In order to help companies switch to renewable energy sources, and to promote the use of renewable process heat, the Economic Affairs Ministry funds the provision of process heat from solar thermal installations, efficient heat pumps and biomass installations. Here, funding covers 40% of the eligible costs of integrating renewable energy sources into the production process. Small and medium-sized enterprises receive 55% funding.

Module 3: metering and control technology
Energy management systems are effective tools to improve energy efficiency in companies. They require the systematic mapping and control of energy flows – necessitating the relevant hardware and software. The Economic Affairs Ministry is therefore providing funding covering 30% of the eligible costs of the acquisition and installation of measurement, monitoring and control technology, and for sensors to integrate it into an energy or environmental management system. Small and medium-sized enterprises receive 40% funding. Funding also goes towards energy-management software, and for training employees in the use of the software.

Module 4: energy-related optimisation of installations and processes
Whether in mechanical engineering, printing or the supermarket: where a lot of energy is being consumed, a lot of energy can be saved. In order to make use of all the potential for energy savings, the Economic Affairs Ministry is funding company-specific, complex efficiency measures – i.e. measures relating to the entire production process. Many different efficiency measures can be combined to achieve this. It is important that energy consumption and thus carbon emissions fall: companies have to demonstrate this in an energy saving concept. Companies receive funding of up to 30% of the eligible costs (a maximum of €500 per tonne of CO2 saved) for the energy-related optimisation of industrial and commercial installations and processes which results in a cut in energy consumption. Small and medium-sized enterprises receive up to 40% funding (up to €700 per tonne of CO2 saved).

Energy efficiency funding competition
In addition to traditional grant-based funding to boost energy efficiency in companies, the Economic Affairs Ministry’s Energy Efficiency Funding Competition (the successor to “STEP up!”) is to offer funding with a flexible, higher rate of funding via a competition. The decision on the funding depends on the “funding efficiency”, i.e. the more energy saved for the amount of money, the better the prospects of winning funding in the competition. The launch date and the conditions for the competition will be announced in the spring of 2019.