German Green Paper on Energy Efficiency: consultation key messages
10 Jul 2017


Germany has ambitious energy and climate goals. By 2050 at the latest, energy consumption is to be cut by half – and Germany is to be supplied largely with renewable energies. In order to achieve this, further progress is necessary in the years to come. For this purpose, energy needs to be used more effectively and the share of renewables in energy supplies has to increase.

Both papers show the following: In the future, renewable electricity will be used increasingly and efficiently in transport, heat supplies and in industry, reducing CO2 emissions in these sectors (sector coupling). Here, a “triad” consisting of energy efficiency, directly used renewable energies and the use of electricity from renewables is to become the guideline of the energy policy:

  • Firstly: The energy requirement needs to be reduced clearly and lastingly in all sectors (“Efficiency First”). This limits the need for power generation plants, grids, imported raw materials and storage.
  • Secondly: Renewable energies are used directly, e.g. through solar thermal and geothermal technologies or biomass.
  • Thirdly: Renewable electricity is used efficiently for heat, transport and industry (sector coupling).

Shape sector coupling: efficiently and in a renewable way

Sector coupling (i.e. the efficient use of renewable electricity for heat, transport and in industry) brings together two fields – energy efficiency and renewable energies:

  • Sector coupling has a central role for driving forward the energy transition (Energiewende) effectively and at favourable cost.
  • The use of electricity for heat, cold and transport reduces greenhouse gas emissions if electricity from renewables is used in an energy efficient manner. In this way, as many fossil energy sources as possible are substituted by climate-friendly and efficient alternatives.
  • The framework conditions must be right to make sector coupling a success. In particular, this includes improving the competitive conditions for renewable electricity in the fields of heat and transport and further developing the existing promotion for the energy-efficient modernisation of buildings. Where necessary, promotion instruments and incentives should be deployed for research into technologies and for bringing such technologies to the market. Furthermore, the infrastructures needed for research coupling should be expanded and further developed (e.g. electricity and heat grids, charging infrastructures for electrical cars). Further developing the quality standards for the technologies makes sense too.

Other fields of action and results from the consultation on the Green Paper Energy Efficiency

  • Firmly establish “Efficiency First”: Giving priority to energy efficiency widely meets with approval. Now it is important to put this principle into practice. For this, the energy policy regime needs to be examined systematically for potential improvement - existing obstacles and negative incentives and adapted accordingly – where such steps lead overall to favourably priced, reliable and environmentally sound energy supplies. An energy efficiency act with binding targets based on the energy concept, guiding principles and a reduction of legal obstacles could create a suitable framework.
  • Further develop efficiency instruments: The goals for reducing energy consumption can be reached only through a continuous and marked increase in energy efficiency. Based on the evaluation of the consultation, instruments of price or volume steering seem to be suitable; therefore, they are examined by the BMWi. Moreover, the existing efficiency instruments need to be brought in an even more effective shape. Offers and processes for support need to be bundled more strongly and brought in a result-oriented form which clearly addresses the respective target groups. Preparations for a suitable promotion strategy are already underway at the BMWi.
  • Drive forward energy efficiency at EU level: Climate-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supplies need a strong European framework. Therefore, in the ongoing negotiations about the legislative package for the decade 2020-2030 the German federal government will continue to advocate a stronger expansion of the market for energy services across the EU and the creation of uniform competitive conditions for energy consumers in all EU Member States. With this in mind, the federal government supports a binding EU energy efficiency target of 30% by 2030 and an ambitious continuation of the EU’s central efficiency rules.
  • Use digitalisation for energy efficiency: Data gathering on energy consumption has great potential for the development of new services and business models. Experiences with ongoing promotion programmes and technological developments are to be used to decide whether (and to what extent) the market introduction of new energy efficiency services should be supported and whether promotion measures can be interlinked for those energy saving options where data is gathered by way of digital technologies. Here, high standards for data protection and the safe and stable operating of the IT infrastructure are the prerequisites for the trust of energy consumers and the introduction of marketable business models.

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