Article - Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Platform

Introduction

Source: Fotolia.com/gpointstudio

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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 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 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 stakeholders were given opportunity to present their views on all of the issues covered, and these views were also discussed.

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 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 further plenary sessions, 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. Part of the NAPE measures were combined into the funding package entitled “Energy efficiency and process heat from renewable energy in commerce” on 1 January 2019. In addition, the ministry gave regular updates on its public relations campaign called “Deutschland macht’s effizient” (Germany makes it efficient).

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.

Downloadable documents (in German):

9th session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 18 June 2018:

8th session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 19 June 2017:

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

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

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

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

3rd session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 29 January 2015:

2nd session of the Energy Efficiency Platform, 7 October 2014:

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

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. As far as quality is concerned, a key focus is being placed on establishing quality standards for advisors who provide their services on the energy market. The recommendations and input provided by the Working Group is fed into the related project by the Federal Office for Energy Efficiency, the Federal funding programme on energy advice for residential buildings and the Federal funding programme on energy advice for non-residential buildings owned by the municipalities.

"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 papers listed below have been developed by the Working Group with support from the Energy Efficiency Platform’s Office.

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” Working Group assesses the legal framework for energy efficiency. For example, it looks at the question as to whether and to what extent a unified legal framework for energy efficiency is needed and as to whether and to what extent this framework is suitable for ensuring that the national energy efficiency targets can be met. The Working Group also oversees the conducting of a legal opinion that looks into the effect of energy law on energy efficiency, the possibilities of the Federal Government to enshrine energy efficiency in law, and ways to handle the Efficiency First principle. The opinion was jointly conducted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control. The “Legal Framework for Energy Efficiency Services” Working Group has drafted the following working papers:

"Competitive Tendering Model" Working Group

The “Competitive Tendering Model” Working Group oversaw the introduction of “STEP up!”, the funding instrument for electricity efficiency launched in June 2016. The points made by the business associations and other relevant stakeholders were fed into the design of the programme.

Up until the end of the pilot phase in 2018, experience from the completed bidding rounds was discussed, and suggestions for the future development of the programme collated. In the working group, the relevant associations can draw on the feedback from companies regarding STEP up!, and suggest topics for the subsequent subject-specific bidding rounds and the future development of STEP up! The competition is part of an extensive funding package entitled “Energy efficiency and process heat from renewable energy in commerce” which was developed together with the business community as part of the funding strategy for energy efficiency.

"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".

“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 main issues are sector coupling and questions of electricity efficiency. The Working Group not only discusses the opportunities that exist in this area, but also the challenges linked to sector coupling and flexibility options.

As part of the Energy Efficiency Platform, there are also public events held on a range of specific topics. 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.

“An energy efficiency strategy for Germany”

The event entitled “An energy efficiency strategy for Germany” was held in Berlin on 5 November 2018. It sought to provide input on the elements to be possibly included in the Federal Government’s energy efficiency strategy and to provide additional ideas and impetus for this strategy.

The event was attended by around 50 stakeholders from the plenary session of the Energy Efficiency Platform. It began with four presentations on the most important energy-efficiency instruments and measures included in the strategy.

These were followed by several rounds of a World Café, where participants discussed instruments for price-based and quantitative steering which it was considered could be, or ought to be, included in the energy efficiency strategy. These included in particular a discussion of the following questions:

  • What is the impact of a particular instrument on different areas of consumption?
  • How precisely can these instruments be steered? How vulnerable are these instruments to rebound effects?
  • To what extent are they compatible with the instruments already adopted?
  • How can these instruments be implemented politically? How can these instruments be implemented in a way that is socially acceptable?

All the stakeholders agreed that if no new instruments are adopted and new efforts undertaken, the reductions in energy consumption achieved will not be sufficient for Germany to meet its energy efficiency targets. There was common ground about the fact that a smart mix of instruments is needed and that these need to be underpinned by the current regulatory framework and better information and advice. In the discussion on price-based and quantities steering, it was pointed out that long-term price development scenarios are needed to ensure continuity, predictability, enforceability, social compatibility and redistribution of the energy-efficiency based savings.

The Federal Government’s energy efficiency strategy is currently being drafted in close coordination with other Federal Government ministries and by taking into account plans to adopt a climate change mitigation law. It is to be published in 2019.

“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):

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

On 9 May 2017, the Legal Framework/Energy Services working group joined with the Federal Office for Energy Efficiency to hold a conference entitled “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. It became clear that the market for efficiency-enhancing energy services in Germany has fundamentally 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 good 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. It was also recognised that public sector can serve as a greater 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, while the issue of quality assurance was considered particularly important for the energy consulting market segment. Possibilities for improved marketing of various energy services were also identified as important fields of action.

Downloadable documents (in German):

  • Presentation: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy – heat supply contracting (PDF, 146 KB (PDF, 146 KB))
  • Presentation: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy – stimuli for energy-saving contracting by the Federal Government (PDF, 1.021KB)

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

Alongside the meeting of the Systemic Issues working group that took place in Berlin on 27 June 2016, another specialist 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 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.