Wind turbines on renewable energies; Source: BMWi/Holger Vonderlind

© BMWi/Holger Vonderlind

The 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act ushers in a new phase of the energy transition. The expansion of renewable energy in Germany is successful - renewables accounted for roughly 32% in 2016, and the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act means that their share is to rise to 35 per cent by 2020. The 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act creates a paradigm shift: From January 1 onwards, the rates of renewables funding will be determined by the market by means of dedicated auction schemes, rather than being fixed by the government. What this means is that in order to be awarded funding, operators of new photovoltaics installations, wind turbines and biogas plants will need to bid in auctions, and thus face up to competitors in their field. The bidder who asks for the lowest amount of funding wins.

Find out more about the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act here.

Combined heat and power generation to be further expanded

As a highly efficient and green source of energy, combined heat and power generation (CHP) plays an important role for driving forward Germany's energy transition. Consequently, the rules for combined heat and power generation (CHP) and for self-suppliers included in the Renewable Energy Sources Act have been revised as of 2017. Starting 1 January, CHP funding for small installations that generate between 1 and 50 MW will be determined via auctions. In addition to this, the special equalisation scheme included in the Renewable Energy Sources Act will be transferred to the Combined Heat and Power Act.

Further information on combined heat and power generation can be found here.

Chimney sweeps to issue new heating label

Since 1 January 2016, all heating systems older than 15 years have been required to carry an energy label. Now, chimney sweeps will be obliged to label any heating system that has been missed. The new label makes it possible for consumers to directly compare the efficiency level of an old boiler with that of new heating systems. This will make it easier for them to find out how much energy they will save if they replace an old boiler. Around 70 per cent of all German boilers that are currently in use are no longer up-to-date, resulting in high energy consumption and high costs. A new boiler helps reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and heating costs by up to 20 per cent. The new label comes with a leaflet that is free of charge and that provides information on advice services that can be used by home owners to find out more about how they can improve their heating system.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy provides funding for the installation of highly-efficient heating systems under its CO2 building renovation programme and for heating systems that run on renewables under its Market Incentive Programme. In addition to this, home owners can also receive a grant for replacing a heating pump or for letting a specialist carry out a process of hydraulic balancing.

Further information on this can be found here.

TVs to become more efficient

Since the end of 2011, TVs have been subject to EU energy labelling rules. The colourful energy label that is attached to the TV includes a gradient going from green (most energy efficient) to red (least energy efficient) and helps consumers choose products that are particularly energy efficient.

For TVs, the efficiency rating scale used to cover efficiency classes A to G. On 1 January 2017, the scale was changed and now ranges from class A++ to class E. The lowest efficiency class - class F - was eliminated. In January 2020, the label will be changed again to cover classes A+++ to D. Manufacturers can choose to use this new scale as of now for TVs that are already particularly energy efficient. This helps to further improve energy efficiency across Europe.

More information can be found on the website of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing.

Range hoods to become more efficient

Range hoods are also subject to EU energy efficiency and labelling requirements. From 2017 onwards, all new range hoods need to at least meet the requirements of energy efficiency class E, with the lowest energy efficiency class F having been eliminated. Since January 2015, all range hoods have been required to be fitted with the EU Energy Label. On 20 February 2016, the scale was changed to cover efficiency classes A+ to F (class G was eliminated). Between 2018 and 2020, the label will be adjusted again to include classes A++ and A+++.

More information can be found on the website of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing.

Metal-halide and mercury-vapor lamps banned

Metal-halide lamps and mercury-vapor lamps that generate less than 80 lumens per watt may no longer be installed or sold from 1 January 2017 onwards. These lamps are currently used as a light source for exterior illumination and street lighting, as well as for lighting event halls. The new rules are part of the EU's ecodesign regulations.

More information can be found on the website of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing.

To find out more about current German energy policy, please consult our fortnightly Newsletter "Energiewende direkt".