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Article - Energy Efficiency

‘Germany makes it efficient’

Introduction

Energy efficiency pays off: the cleanest and cheapest energy is energy that we don’t use in the first place. In order to make our energy transition a success, we need to become even more efficient in the way we use power and heat.

The objective is to make more out the energy we use. We want to do what we do with as little energy as possible – and make sure that most of the energy we use is renewable energy. This is what the German energy transition is all about. We’re moving in the right direction: from 2008 to 2015, primary energy consumption sank by a respectable 7.6%. But we still have a long way to go. After all, the energy transition will only succeed if all of us work together to improve energy performance and reduce our energy consumption.

Energy efficiency benefits all sides – and also saves money

First of all, a better energy performance benefits the climate. Better energy efficiency means lower carbon emissions. It can also save private households, companies and municipalities some real money. It is therefore not surprising that returns on investments in energy efficiency tend to be higher than returns on secure investments in the capital market.

Using less energy to generate more growth

Improved energy efficiency will also put German companies in a better position to compete globally. Businesses that produce more products using fewer resources and that cut their emissions are able to operate at a lower cost than their rivals. Furthermore, energy efficiency is a driver of new business models and innovative technologies and services that give German businesses an edge over their competitors from abroad.

Figures and facts at a glance

50
Symbolicon für Wachstumskurve

per cent
less primary energy is to be consumed in Germany by 2050 (compared with 2008).

50
Symbolicon für Hasuhalt

per cent
The percentage of power consumers save when using appliances rated A+++ compared to ones rated A+.

> 150
Symbolicon für Netzwerke

new energy efficiency networks
have already been formed, bringing together industry, trade and the skilled crafts.

10
Symbolicon für Heizen

million heating systems
in Germany are more than ten years old – and often very inefficient.

National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency

Saving for a green future

The German government has adopted a National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), a comprehensive package of measures designed to improve the country’s energy performance that was put in place during the last parliament. It is now important to develop it further.

Alongside renewables development, improving energy efficiency is also crucial in order to make the energy transition a success. This applies to private households just as much to industrial companies and municipalities. The German Government has in fact set out clear energy efficiency targets. By 2050, Germany is to cut its primary energy consumption by 50% compared to 2008.

The brochure “Energy Efficiency in Figures” (in German) provides an overview of trends in energy efficiency and energy consumption since 1990.

This is how it works: Supplying information – providing support – demanding action

In order to improve their energy performance, citizens, companies and municipalities need to know where there is scope for doing so. The first area of focus within the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency is therefore on providing information and advice on energy efficiency.

The second area of focus is on promoting targeted investment in energy efficiency and on doing so in innovative ways. The scope of the CO2 Building Modernisation Programme (KfW programmes for energy-efficient construction and retrofitting) has been widened and its funding envelope increased. This includes the establishment of a programme designed to prevent and/or use waste heat and the introduction of an auctioning system for energy-efficiency measures. The latter programme is about promoting investments whereby the lowest level of funding leads to the highest possible savings in electricity consumption.

The third principle behind the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency is that of ‘demanding action’: it is now mandatory for large companies to conduct energy audits. Similarly, new standards apply for new appliances and newly constructed buildings. Furthermore, companies are called upon to become actively involved in one of up to 500 energy-efficiency networks and use these to define and reach joint efficiency targets.

Most of the measures requiring immediate action set out in the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency have already been successfully implemented. Click here to read more about the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency, the immediate action taken under the plan, and long-term measures.

In the spotlight: municipalities, businesses, consumers

The German government’s National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency seeks to encourage all parts of society to use energy more efficiently – whether municipalities, businesses, or consumers. It sees energy efficiency as a challenge to be mastered by society as a whole. Additional information for:

Improving on what is already a good approach: updating the NAPE

In order to achieve these ambitious targets – part of Germany’s energy concept – existing potential for raising energy efficiency will have to be exploited even more. In order to update the NAPE, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched a public consultation on the Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, which commenced in summer 2016. The Paper set out key questions and points for discussion concerning most important fields of action and the primary challenges that are faced when attempting to reduce energy consumption in the long term. The Ministry presented the evaluation report on the consultation process in May 2017.

Advice and funding

Energy: making more out of less

The Federal Government operates a raft of consulting and funding programmes to help individuals and companies reduce their energy consumption by improving efficiency.

Energy efficiency pays off: for private citizens, companies and municipalities. Before you invest in improving the energy efficiency of your home or business, having the right information is key. The German government is providing a wide range of different information services and funding programmes.

Energy-efficiency hotline

As part of its ‘Germany makes it efficient’ campaign, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has launched a freephone service hotline. Individuals and companies can call 0800 0115 000 to learn more about the many programmes Germany has launched to support the move towards greater energy efficiency. For more information and practical tips, please go to www.deutschland-machts-effizient.de (in German).

Services for consumers: initial advice and energy audits

If you’re looking to gain an initial overview and tips on how to conserve energy, the consumer centres are a good place to start. They offer a wide range of information services on their websites, over the phone, and can even come to your home. You can also have an energy audit at your house, which will allow homeowners and tenants to learn how to conserve energy at home. For further information, please click here. Consumers looking for new, energy-efficiency household or multimedia equipment can make use of the tools and materials of the National Top Runner Initiative (NTRI - in German). The Energy Efficiency Product Finder (in German) and a range of infographics and checklists (in German) help consumers to find the appliance that best suits their needs. The consumers can also benefit from tips on how to use their existing equipment in a way that saves more energy, thus cutting their electricity bills.

Energy audits and funding for companies

Like private consumers, companies also stand to save a great deal of money if they invest in energy-efficient machinery and processes. SMEs in Germany can benefit from a whole raft of advisory services and funding programmes that are all tailored to help them improve their energy performance. These include funding for energy management systems, systems to prevent and/or use waste heat, support with investments in energy-efficient and climate-friendly production processes, and support for energy advice for companies. For an overview of all the different programmes available to companies, please click here.

More effective advice and support: the new funding strategy for energy efficiency and heat from renewables

In order to significantly boost the effectiveness of the programmes, the advice and innovation support is being thoroughly reformed in the “Energy efficiency and heat from renewables support strategy”. From 2017 to 2019, the support programmes are being gradually restructured, packaged together thematically and targeted at specific audiences. The main focus of the support is on “Energy-efficient buildings”, “Energy efficiency in industry and commerce”, “Heating infrastructure” and “Saving electricity in private households”. Also, a one-stop shop will make it easier for potential beneficiaries to find out which programme suits their needs and to then access this funding. All of the relevant information and step-by-step guidance for interested households and companies will be available from one place. This guidance will range from initial information on energy efficiency through to completion of the modernisation work.

Energy-efficient products and the efficiency label

The greener, the more efficient

Energy labelling indicates products’ energy consumption levels and makes it easier for consumers to choose energy-efficient products. This also creates greater competition among manufacturers.

The colour-coded efficiency label introduced by the EU gives consumers better information about products’ energy consumption, helping them choose energy-efficient products.

The underlying EU Directive stipulates that the label is to be used for all products that use relevant amounts of energy. This applies not only to whiteware, but also products used commercially and products that don’t use energy themselves but have a strong impact on the amount of energy consumed elsewhere (i.e. insulated windows). Heating systems and boilers are another important group of products that are now being labelled.

Save energy and money by using highly efficient appliances

The EU energy label not only provides information about the efficiency of the respective appliance but – depending on the type of product – also provides information about aspects like the water consumption (in the case of washing machines and dishwashers) and the noise level. In this way, the label helps consumers to compare different appliances. The explanatory film "Das Energielabel – Wegweiser zum Stromsparen im Haushalt" (in German) briefly summaries the key points.

Consumers can find particularly efficient and ecological products in the National Top Runner Initiative’s product finder. Also, information provided by the Initiative guides consumers step by step towards the best appliance for them, and shows them how to use their appliances in a way that saves energy. The information can be found here.

For further information on the energy performance of products, please click here.

Efficiency label for old heating systems

Some 35% of the energy consumed within the building sector in Germany is used for heating and hot water. Since January 2016, Germany has been rolling out a new efficiency label to be used on all boilers that are more than 15 years old. This is to inform consumers about their boiler’s efficiency rating and about the advisory and funding services that are available – and to ultimately encourage them to have a new and more efficient boiler fitted. The labelling is to increase the rate at which older heating systems are being replaced and to persuade consumers to conserve energy. Heating technicians, chimney sweeps and certain energy consultants have been licensed to issue the labels and it has been mandatory for district chimney sweeps to do so since 2017.

Fuel efficiency labelling for passenger cars

The Ordinance on Energy Consumption Labelling is about providing information on the energy efficiency of passenger cars. Prospective car buyers can go to www.pkw-Label.de to find answers to questions including: Which car is the right one for me? Which are the most efficient car models within each class of vehicle? What are the running costs for my dream car? The colour-coded CO2 efficiency scale compares a vehicle's CO2 efficiency to other models. Efficiency rates are calculated from the vehicle’s carbon emissions, taking into account the weight of the vehicle. The scale ranges from 'A+' (very efficient) to 'G' (rather inefficient). The running costs for cars listed in the 'green' efficiency categories A+, A and B are particularly low, thanks to the lower vehicle-tax rate that applies and lower fuel costs.

The website also has some practical tips for car dealers, including how to read the energy-efficiency label for electric cars, and on how to display this information in the showroom. For more information on the passenger-car label, please click here.

European framework

Making energy efficiency a European objective

Conserving energy is one of the key objectives adopted by the European Union. Member States have agreed to cut their primary energy consumption by 20% by 2020 and by at least 27% by 2030. They are currently examining the possibility of raising this target to 30%, something that the German government is advocating.

A key steering instrument at European level is the EU Efficiency Directive (EED).

There is massive potential for better energy conservation across all sectors in Europe. In 2007, the EU member states agreed to cut their primary energy consumption by 20% by 2020. In 2012, the European Union adopted the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), thus taking extensive action to lower Europe’s energy consumption. The EED covers a wide range of areas and stipulates that Member States introduce a number of measures to improve their energy efficiency.

Cclick here for more information about the transposition of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

Countries and markets

Finding new markets

The Energy Export Initiative provides support for small and medium-sized energy companies in Germany, and helps them access new markets abroad.

The initiative targets companies that provide solutions around renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and energy storage. The focus is also shifting to new technologies like power-to-gas and fuel cells. So why don’t you use this export initiative to boost your company’s exports? For more detailed information about the initiative and its various components and for an events calendar, please click here or visit the Export Initiative website.

Networks and platforms

Joining forces for better energy efficiency

The German government has signed an agreement with various business associations and organisations, introducing energy efficiency networks across all of Germany.

Energy efficiency networks – a platform for companies to share their expertise

The aim behind this alliance is to create around 500 new networks by 2020, thereby making an important contribution towards raising energy efficiency performance in industry, the skilled crafts sector, trade, and commerce. Each energy efficiency network has 8 to 15 member companies. Since the initiative was first launched, more than 150 new networks have already been set up, involving more than 1,000 companies and sites.

The Energy Transition Platform on Energy Efficiency

Improving a country’s energy efficiency performance is a task for all of society that can only be shouldered if all the relevant stakeholders are prepared to do their bit. Since 2014, the German government has used the Energy Efficiency Platform to discuss new strategies for better energy efficiency in Germany with all the relevant stakeholders. Within the Platform there are various working groups that focus on developing various aspects of energy-efficiency policy, including financial aspects, legal aspects, and advice and consulting. For more information about the Energy Efficiency Platform and its working groups, please click here.

Consultation on energy efficiency; Quelle: Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty Images