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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 seven 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. Discussions centred upon such issues as the new NAPE measures, e.g. the STEP up! tendering model, the waste heat programme, the revised programme to fund horizontal technologies, and the Energy Savings Meters pilot programme. In addition, the ministry gave regular updates on its public relations campaign called “Deutschland macht’s effizient” (Germany makes it efficient).

The two meetings held in autumn 2016 and spring 2017 were held as joint plenary sessions with the Platform on Buildings. These sessions focused on the key hypotheses and questions set out in the Green Paper on energy efficiency and also involved presentation of the results of the consultation process on important fields of action and challenges regarding the future direction of energy efficiency policies in the mid- and long-term.

At the eighth meeting, which took place on 19 June 2017, stakeholders presented their opinions and positions on the report evaluating the public consultation of the Green Paper on energy efficiency. They also discussed ideas for instruments designed to foster the large-scale improvement of energy efficiency. The rest of the session consisted of presentations and discussions on energy-efficiency topics, such as the EU winter package, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s funding strategy, the “Germany makes it efficient” campaign and the status of the work being undertaken by the platforms.

The most recent plenary session was held on 18 June 2018. In this first session during the new legislative term, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy outlined the plans for the Federal Government’s energy efficiency strategy, which will include a further development of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency. With a view to consultations and stakeholder proposals, the work of the platform is to be continued in the plenary sessions and in thematic working groups.

Further to this, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy reported on the status of the ministry’s funding strategy, planning relating to the heating transition (particularly involving the projects “Heating networks 4.0” and “Innovative CHP systems”), the “Germany makes it efficient” campaign (and especially the ministry’s energy efficiency dialogue) and the clean energy package of the European Union. The views of the stakeholders on all of the issues were heard and discussed.

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 working group on Innovative Financing Concepts 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. Over the course of 2015, the working group met twice. 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.

In 2016, the working group met twice. Its focus was on the development of the solution entitled ‘Positive list for leasing capability’ proposed in the working paper on balance-sheet-neutral financing. In the end, the decision was that it is impracticable to compile a positive list. This led to the drafting of a concept paper looking at alternative solutions with regard to establishing clear criteria on leasing capability. The working group is exploring the intricacies of these solutions in closer detail. In order to address key questions raised in the working group concerning standardisation and the bundling of energy efficiency projects, time was dedicated to presenting and discussing concepts for pilot projects at each of the meetings held in 2016. In addition, findings were discussed regarding the extent to which additional risk-assumption measures are required. The progress of the Investor Confidence Project Europe was presented also.

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.

At the latest meeting, which took place on 25 April 2017, discussions on these issues were continued based on a presentation by GÖRG and frontier economics on the subject matter and the planned design of a legal opinion which is to be prepared in this regard/context, and which will include an analysis of the effects of energy law on energy efficiency. The two firms further discussed the possibility of incorporating the Federal Government’s energy efficiency goals into law, and ways in with the principle of ‘Efficiency First’ can be implemented. The legal opinion was jointly commissioned by the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry and BAFA and is to be completed by the end of 2018. During that period, the reviewers are to give the working group a feedback on their work at regular intervals.

In addition, the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry provided an overview of the planned revision of energy conservation law, which is to be continued in the coming legislative period.

Also, the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry informed the working group about the Federal Government’s measures and priorities in the area of contracting services. In this context, dena presented current and planned activities that were agreed within the scope of the dialogue on contracting services between the Federal government and the Länder, which aims to enhance contracting services in the Länder by establishing regional centres of excellence.

Furthermore, the working group approved the Heat Supply Ordinance working paper and released it for publication. In order to improve the cost-effectiveness of commercial heat supply, the paper recommends that - under certain conditions - new norms be used based on a study by the EBZ Business School to determine the annual utilisation factor and that the assessment limit for determining cost neutrality be extended to measures downstream of the heat quantity meter.

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, three further working group meetings were held on 19 September 2016, 20 February 2017 and 7 September 2017 at which the experience made and the applications received in the first three bidding rounds were discussed, and feedback was invited from the professional associations. Further to this, changes to the third (1 March to 31 May 2017) and fourth (1 September to 30 November 2017) bidding rounds were explained.

Within the scope of the fourth closed call for proposals on ‘Efficiency measures in drying and cleaning processes’, STEP up! provided funding not only for measures aimed purely at efficient use of electricity, but also for projects that save both electricity as well as heat (combined electricity and heat projects). In the fifth closed call for proposals (1 March-31 May 2018) for ‘Efficiency measures in water and wastewater technology’, combined electricity and heat projects were promoted once again.

In the working group, the relevant associations can continued to draw on the feedback from the companies regarding STEP up!, and suggest topics for the subsequent subject-specific bidding rounds and the future development of STEP up! For more information on STEP up!, please visit: www.stepup-energieeffizienz.de (in German).

"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.

“Energy efficiency cooperatives – financing energy efficiency investments from the public?”

In the context of the Working Group on Innovative Financing Concepts, 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.

“Raw materials and energy efficiency – synergies and conflicting objectives”

Alongside the meeting of the Working Group on Systemic Issues that took place in Berlin on 27 June 2016, another event entitled ‘raw materials and energy efficiency – synergies and conflicting objectives’ was also held. 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.

“Energy services and other efficiency measures: market development and opportunities”

On 9 May 2017, the Legal Framework/Energy Services working group cooperated with the Federal Office for Energy Efficiency to hold a conference on “Energy services and other efficiency measures: market development and opportunities” in Berlin.

At the start, the 65 participants were given an overview of the current developments on the overall market and on the three submarkets of energy consulting, contracting and energy management on the basis of the Federal Office for Energy Efficiency’s latest market survey for energy audits, energy services and other energy efficiency measures (in German). It was clear that the market for efficiency-enhancing energy services in Germany has basically established itself both in terms of the breadth and the depth of what is on offer, and that the diversity of the available services has increased. Despite this, energy services are not being used to the extent necessary in order to attain the Federal Government’s energy efficiency targets or to the extent that makes business sense.

Working from brief impulse statements, the participants therefore discussed the measures that the market players believe can strengthen the submarkets and the extent to which government policies can foster their development. It became clear that digitalisation is regarded as something that can give a boost to energy management services. Also, the public sector can serve as a role model and publicise examples of best practices in order to stimulate the contracting and energy management submarkets. Furthermore, an improvement in the regulations governing contracting was deemed necessary, and was also regarded as particularly important for the energy consulting market segment and the issue of quality assurance. Possibilities for improved marketing of various energy services were also identified as important fields of action.

Downloadable documents (in German):

“Digitalisation and energy efficiency: potential and challenges”

The consultation process on the Green Paper on energy efficiency has shown that digitalisation is regarded as an enabler for the energy transition and a driving force for the development of the energy services market. However, the digitalisation of the energy sector is also creating questions and a need for action, necessitating close political support for the process of change and the establishment of a suitable policy environment.

Against this background, the conference entitled ‘Digitalisation and energy efficiency: potential and challenges’ was held in Berlin on 29 June 2017. The 70 participants were first shown successful examples giving an impression of the potential offered by digitalisation to boost energy efficiency in industry. Following this, the discussion focused on the policy decisions needed to define the framework for digitalisation in the energy efficiency sector. Existing and emerging standards and interfaces were highlighted in the context of digitalisation and energy efficiency, and the extent to which there is a need for harmonisation and action in the field of standardisation was discussed.

The event showed once again that the use of digital technologies offers highly promising possibilities to develop small-scale potential for energy efficiencies and to open up potential for flexibility which has previously been uneconomic. It also became clear that the preconditions for the secure and reliable use of digitalisation for energy efficiency need to be put in place in the organisational, regulatory and legal framework for data protection, IT security, joint interfaces/standards (“lingua electronica”) which is currently being established. Here, it is still necessary to clarify what data and standards are needed by whom, and what is to be standardised by whom.

Downloadable documents (in German):