The Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency – sees the Federal Government’s Energy Efficiency Green Paper as an important contribution to the political discussion process, and recommends the consistent implementation of the guiding principle it puts forward: ‘Efficiency first’. To do that, it is important not only to introduce new instruments, but also to strengthen the existing ones. Financial incentives, fair competition and an openness to new technology need to be at the forefront of this process. We could then succeed in tapping the great potential that still exists for reducing costs in homes, businesses and the public sector. This comes from a statement made by dena in consultation with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
‘Efficiency first also means optimising, standardising and simplifying existing instruments, because the potential is far from being fully exploited, whether in terms of consumer information, market transparency or quality assurance,’ says Andreas Kuhlmann, dena’s Chief Executive. ‘When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, energy efficiency is still the cheapest and most effective method. The best way forward is through innovation, creativity and initiative. We need to strengthen these market forces.’
Approaches to better frameworks
dena advocates, for example, greater coordination between activities undertaken at national, state and local levels, greater involvement of energy providers and skilled trades in consumer dialogue, and the facilitation of market access for new suppliers. Regulatory law could be standardised in various areas; energy efficiency labelling could simplified; and the implementation of standards could be monitored more closely in practice. Admittedly, the market for energy efficiency services in Germany is relatively well developed, but it is restricted within the current legal framework.
In the end it comes down to a lack of effective investment incentives in some areas of the heating, electricity and transport sectors, particularly in times of low interest rates and low oil and gas prices. For instance, there is still no suitable replacement for the tax relief on energy-efficient building refurbishment, which failed on political grounds. ‘If we really want to increase energy efficiency in the heating market, we’ll need at least 5 billion euros a year – roughly twice as much as up to now – divided amongst credit, subsidies, and tax incentives,’ stresses Kuhlmann, speaking also on behalf of the Allianz für Gebäude-Energie-Effizienz (geea) – Alliance for Building Energy Efficiency, initiated and coordinated by dena.
Energy Efficiency Green Paper
The Energy Efficiency Green Paper, published by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, presents proposals for long-term reductions in energy consumption. Comments could be submitted up to the beginning of November.
The Federal Government’s information on the Energy Efficiency Green Paper: