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Improving energy efficiency is a cross-cutting task that requires the participation of our entire society. Energy consumers benefit from increased energy efficiency since it lowers energy costs significantly. Nevertheless, energy efficiency has not attracted as much investment as is economically appropriate and necessary to reach the efficiency targets.

Focus on joint dialogue

An increase in energy efficiency cannot be achieved by state intervention alone. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has therefore established the Energy Efficiency Platform to develop and discuss joint solutions together with the relevant stakeholders from business, civil society, science, the affected public departments and the federal states.

Development of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency

On 3 December 2014, the German government laid out the details of its efficiency strategy in the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE). The action plan brings together energy efficiency goals, tools and responsibilities and identifies effective measures that can make an important contribution to boosting energy efficiency. The measures set out in NAPE are also designed to help implement the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.

The Energy Efficiency Platform was involved in the development of the NAPE. Participants' suggestions regarding measures were incorporated directly into the NAPE discussion.

The Platform is also supporting the implementation of the NAPE. The Platform is subdivided into five thematic working groups.


The plenary session of the Energy Efficiency Platform brings together the relevant stakeholders from commerce, civil society, academia, the appropriate government ministries and the Länder. It meets at regular intervals.

The inaugural meeting of the Energy Transition “Energy Efficiency” Platform took place in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 10 July 2014. At this first meeting, chaired by Director-General Herdan, the issues of funding assistance, advice, financing and improving the regulatory framework were pinpointed as being the Platform’s four main fields of action, and initial proposals for new measures were pooled and discussed. At the same time, the participants were called on to submit more proposals for measures. Following the inaugural meeting of the Energy Efficiency Platform, the representatives submitted more than a hundred suggestions for action. These were then pooled, assessed and quantified, and fed into the NAPE process.

The National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE) was adopted by the federal cabinet on 3 December 2014. At three further plenary sessions after the inaugural meeting, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy provided regular information about the planning and status of the implementation of the NAPE, other energy efficiency instruments and the work of the working groups of the Energy Efficiency Platform. The discussion focused not least on the competitive tendering model for energy efficiency, the energy efficiency networks initiative, and the new energy audit requirement for non-SMEs.

The 6th meeting on 4 October 2016 was held as a joint plenary event with participants of the Platform on Buildings. Its focus was on the consultations regarding the Green Paper on Energy Efficiency. Stakeholders of both platforms on the energy transition engaged in small round-table discussions with changing participants in the World Café to look into the hypotheses and key questions set out in the Green Paper regarding important fields of action and challenges in conjunction with the future direction of energy efficiency policies in the mid- and long-term.

Downloadable documents (in German):

1st session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 10 July 2014:

2nd session of the Energy Efficiency Platform:

  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (PDF: 479,8 KB)

3rd session of the Energy Efficiency Platform:

  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (PDF: 321 KB)

4th session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 18 December 2015:

  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Platform’s Office (PDF: 408 KB)

5th session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 24 May 2016:

  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (PDF: 339 KB)
  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on the communication and activation campaign (PDF: 1,6 MB)

6th session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 04 October 2016:

  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (PDF: 3MB)

7th session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 07 February 2017:

  • Presentation by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (PDF: 2MB)

Working Group Meetings

In addition to the plenary meetings, meetings of (sub)working groups and workshops are regularly held on specific subjects at working level. Detailed questions of certain key issues of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency are discussed, and recommendations drawn up for the plenary.

"Advice and Information" Working Group

The “Advice and Information” Working Group aims to discuss projects such as energy advice for municipalities, quality standards to be met by energy advisors, and the development of tailored renovation roadmaps for specific buildings. The group held its first meeting on 31 March 2015. The focus was on quality and independence of energy advice and the further development of specific advisory services for households, companies and municipalities. At its second meeting on 20 January 2016, the participants continued the debate on quality. The focus was on establishing quality standards for energy consultants. “Energy consulting” is not a protected concept, and the market offers a range of energy consulting services of varying quality and motivated by various interests. Quality assurance, e.g. required expertise and content, currently exists only in the government-funded advisory services. The envisaged development of a uniform nation-wide examination for energy consultants aims to give consumers greater transparency and security, also for advice which is not funded by the state. The participants welcomed the envisaged project, which is being prepared by the Federal Office for Energy Efficiency, and provided suggestions from their particular fields of expertise.

Also, results from studies to assess energy consulting and energy-related retrofitting were considered from the home-owner’s perspective. The focus here was on aspects of how various groups of owners are motivated, obtain information and go about the work, and how satisfied they are with the results.

At the next meeting in autumn 2016, the focus will mainly be on “test criteria for independent advice”.

"Innovative Financing Concepts" Working Group

The participants in the “Innovative Financing Concepts” Working Group discuss the need for additional financial instruments to enable investment to take place in energy efficiency, and draft specific recommendations for action.

The Working Group first met on 18 March 2015 and focused on aspects like the effects of existing financial instruments and the main challenges facing efforts to stimulate even more investment in energy efficiency. The participants agreed that there is no general shortage of capital at present. Rather, there is a need for new ways to bring energy efficiency projects and providers of capital together. The working group met twice in 2015. Solutions from private-sector lenders and public institutions like the European Investment Bank were presented. In this context, the Investor Confidence Project Europe was presented and its development considered. Several members of the working group drew up working papers on combining projects, risk assumption, and balance-sheet-neutral financing, with support from the Energy Efficiency Platform’s Office. For 2016, the working group agreed on a number of activities to implement the aspects discussed.

Its fourth meeting was held on 6 July 2016. Working from the solution entitled “Positive list for leasing capability” proposed in the working paper on balance-sheet-neutral financing, an update on the work was presented for discussion. The decision was that it is impracticable to compile a positive list. Alternative solutions were discussed with regard to establishing clear criteria on leasing capability. The Platform’s Office also provided a collection of ideas for a pilot project to combine efficiency projects in the manufacturing sector; this was discussed in greater depth in a workshop. Also, findings were discussed regarding the extent to which additional risk-assumption measures are required.

Downloadable documents (in German):

Working papers of the “Innovative Financing Concepts” Working Group:

"Legal Framework for Energy Efficiency Services" Working Group

The legal framework for energy efficiency services is being studied in the “Legal Framework for Energy Efficiency Services” Working Group.

The group began its work on 24 March 2015. The work of this Working Group started with a focus on the rules governing contracting and energy conservation in buildings. To cover this, the participants formed two sub-working groups.

Both sub-working groups met twice more in 2015. The sub-working group on contracting discussed drafts of working papers on the following issues: de minimis, budgetary and procurement law, and the Heat Supply Ordinance. The de minimis and budget/procurement law working papers were adopted by the working group and the plenary session by the end of 2015, and can be found below. The Economic Affairs Ministry also presented the status of the revision of procurement law in the light of EU directives in 2015. Further to this, the provisional results of the study by the associations on “recognised flat-rate values” were presented by the AGFW (the energy efficiency association for heating, cooling and CHP) in the context of the Heat Supply Ordinance; this proposes an improved procedure to establish annual use levels of heating and hot water equipment. In this context, the work on the Heat Supply Ordinance working paper is to be continued in 2016.

In 2015, the sub-working group on energy conservation legislation used presentations by the Federal Environment Agency, co2online and the OMS Group to consider the “further development of the rules on billing/consumption information in heating bills” and “the use of smart metering and consumption registration systems for heating and hot water”. Also, taking into consideration a working paper from dena and a presentation by DEN e.V., the issue of the need to adapt the energy-profile ID card for buildings, and practical ways to do so, was discussed.

At the meeting on 7 July 2016, the subdivision into sub-working groups was abolished, and it was decided to focus the forthcoming meetings on the question of whether and to what extent a uniform legal framework for energy efficiency is necessary or suitable to ensure the attainment of the national energy efficiency targets. To start the debate, the findings of the “Brief study on establishing an Energy Efficiency Act in Germany” were presented by BBH and IKEM (the authors) and assessed by the #efficiency transition alliance. Also, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy reported on the status of the merging of the Energy Conservation Act, the Energy Conservation Ordinance, and the Renewable Energies Heat Act.

Downloadable documents (in German):

Working papers of the “Legal Framework/EES” working group:

"Competitive Tendering Model" Working Group

The “Competitive Tendering Model” Working Group is monitoring the introduction of “STEP up!”, the new funding instrument for electricity efficiency launched in June 2016. The working group commenced its work on 10 March 2015. Firstly, the Economic Affairs Ministry presented the general data and the central principles of the STEP up! programme; the members of the working group then made suggestions to ensure that what is a new instrument for Germany is designed as efficiently and effectively as possible. Also, the working group received a report from Switzerland, where this instrument has been used successfully for many years.

The focus of the other working group sessions and of three workshops in 2015 was on the presentation and discussion of the programme concept, e.g. key elements of the funding guidelines and the first announcement, the envisaged application procedure, the calculation requirements, a documentation of electricity savings, and the public relations efforts to promote the funding programme. The points made by the business associations and other relevant stakeholders fed into the design of the programme.

In parallel to the launch of the first bidding round, the fourth meeting of the working group on 1 June 2016 presented the project manager responsible for implementing STEP up!, and discussed issues relating to the launch of the programme. By the end of the pilot phase in 2018, experience from the completed bidding rounds is to be discussed, and suggestions for the future development of the programme collated. To this end, the relevant associations can draw on the feedback from the companies regarding STEP up!, and suggest topics for the subsequent subject-specific bidding rounds. For more information on STEP up!, please visit: www.stepup-energieeffizienz.de.

"Systemic Issues" Working Group

The “Systemic Issues” Working Group aims in particular to investigate the relationship between energy efficiency policies and other aspects of the energy transition. The working group commenced its work on 9 October 2015, chaired by Director-General Herdan of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The main issues were sector coupling and questions of electricity efficiency. prognos, ifeu and Fraunhofer ISI, Agora Energiewende and dena presented their views and experience. The following intensive discussion involving the approx. 50 participants highlighted the diversity and relevance of the issue. In the afternoon, further possible topics for the next sessions of the working group were collected and discussed. These issues are being considered in greater depth at special thematic sessions within the scope of the platform.

On 21 November 2016, the "Systemic Issues" Working Group of the Energy Efficiency Platform held a meeting together with Working Group 1 (security of supply and market design) and Working Group 2 (flexibility) of the Electricity Market Platform to discuss the topic of sector coupling and flexibilisation. The meeting was part of the dialogue process on "Electricity 2030 – long-term trends and tasks in the coming years". At the same time, sector coupling is a key subject of the Green Paper on Energy Efficiency. In the morning, discussions focused on the role of sector coupling and flexibilisation with a view to cost-efficient delivery of targets. The basis for this were two studies carried out under the direction of Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) and Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. In the afternoon, the participants discussed obstacles for sector coupling and flexibility and identified ways to overcome them. The results of the events will be fed into the final paper on "Electricity 2030 - discussion process".

Thematic events

Public events are also held on specific topics under the Energy Efficiency Platform. These events aim to embrace a dialogue with an extended expert audience about certain aspects of the key fields of action relating to energy efficiency. This enables the work of the Platform to be presented to a wider public. At the same time, it offers the opportunity to discuss in a wider group certain issues which arise from the working groups and the plenary and to give consideration to different expert views, experiences and interests.

In the context of the “Innovative Financing Concepts” working group, a thematic event was held in Berlin on 6 October 2015 about “energy efficiency cooperatives – financing energy efficiency investments from the public?”. The 50 participants heard seven presentations and on this basis discussed the extent to which cooperation between citizens’ energy cooperatives and municipalities offers potential for greater energy efficiency, and how more use can be made of this potential. It became clear that energy cooperatives can relieve the financial and human resources burden on municipalities in the efforts to improve energy performance, and can foster local added value and public participation. However, it was also found that only a few cooperatives are currently active in this new field of business, and that there is therefore a lack of trust and practical experience. Various questions were identified with regard to the future development of this innovative financing concept. Building on this, possible next steps to support the market development of energy efficiency cooperatives are being examined.

Downloadable documents (in German):

Another event was held in Berlin on 27 June 2016 alongside the “Systemic Issues” Working Group on “raw materials and energy efficiency – synergies and conflicting objectives”. Working from the six presentations by academics and practitioners, the 50 participants discussed the extent to which joint goals, instruments, measures and synergies, as well as conflicting objectives and impediments, exist in the policy fields and fields of action relating to energy and resource efficiency. It became clear that standardised instruments from the field of energy efficiency cannot simply be transferred to the field of resource efficiency. In the field of resource efficiency, a case-by-case approach is more suitable. In order to further dovetail the two fields of action, it was proposed that there be an in-depth analysis of the specific need for action via the continued consideration of the issues, a continued dialogue with relevant stakeholders, and the initiation and backing of pilot projects, e.g. relating to the consideration of resource efficiency in energy efficiency networks.


The Platform’s work is supported by an Office commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The Office is managed by the German Energy Agency (dena) and the Institute for Energy Efficiency in Production (EEP) of Stuttgart University, and can be reached at info@mail.plattform-energieeffizienz.de.