European Commission in Brussels; Source: mauritius images/Westend61/Werner Dieterich

© mauritius images/Westend61/Werner Dieterich

Energy efficiency is the second pillar of the energy transition. It cuts energy costs, improves the security of supply and stimulates extensive investment in the local economy. It is fundamental to combating climate change as well. In short, energy efficiency contributes heavily to every goal in the energy policy triad.

Every consumption sector in Europe holds enormous untapped potential for energy saving. Germany, for its part, has made significant progress. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, for example, is committed to exhausting every economically viable approach to energy conservation.

Energy conservation is a key goal of the European Union, too. In 2007, the EU member states agreed to lower their primary energy consumption 20 per cent by 2020. The EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) took effect on 4 December 2012. It covers a broad range of issues and requires the members states to engage in efforts to improve their energy efficiency.

Implementing the Energy Efficiency Directive

The Federal Government plans to implement the EED in a suitable manner under the guidance of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The implementation deadline in the Directive ended in June 2014, but other deadlines still apply to matters such as submitting notices and reports to the European Commission.

The key points of the EED include:

  • Defining national energy efficiency targets for 2020
  • Renovating 3 per cent of central government buildings per year
  • Requirement for member states to cut energy consumption 1.5 per cent a year on average from 2014 to 2020
  • Obligation for large enterprises to carry out regular energy audits
  • Co-generation: requirement to perform a cost/benefit analysis when building or modernising power stations and industrial plants

The Federal Government submitted its Report on the Long-Term Strategy for Mobilising Investment in the Renovation of the National Stock of Buildings in a timely manner as required by Art. 4 of the EED. The report affirms that buildings consume large amounts of energy and thus hold enormous potential for improving energy efficiency. It also details the overall strategy to modernise the building stock to become more energy-efficient. As such, it lays the groundwork for the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE) approved by the Federal Government on 3 December 2014.

The 2014 National Energy Efficiency Action Plan required by the Directive was submitted to the Commission in June. In addition, Germany's EED implementation plans were communicated to Brussels by the 5 June 2014 deadline. Germany has already met many of the requirements set out in the EED. However, its work is not yet finished in other areas. The Federal Government notified the Commission of its strategy for meeting the Directive's core target, i.e. to reduce energy consumption by 1.5% per year: the measures described in the NAPE, along with its past efficiency efforts, will help Germany satisfy its energy conservation obligations.

Regarding the new obligation for large enterprises to perform regular energy audits, the Federal Government submitted a bill (PDF: 190 KB) on 5 November 2014 to amend the Energy Services Act (EDL-G). Once it has passed both houses of the German Parliament, the bill will presumably become law in spring 2015.