Germany has set its sights on halving its energy consumption by 2050. That puts the main onus on the industrial sector, which is responsible for 45 percent of the country’s end-user energy consumption. For the enterprises affected, the key message is that these efficiency measures are not so much compliance obligations imposed "from on high" as new opportunities for increased profitability. The task now is to sell that message. "In this initial phase, we are working closely with industry to communicate the benefits of energy efficiency and present the assistance programs that are available," says Steffen Joest, Deputy Head of Energy Services at the German Energy Agency (dena). This initial awareness campaign is bearing fruit, with more and more companies voluntarily committing to self-imposed efficiency targets. One thing many of the skeptics are learning in this process is that the first 10 to 20 percent of efficiency gains are extremely lucrative. "We're talking about fairly small investments that pay for themselves within months or just a few years and which deliver real benefits," Joest says. Examples of this include converting entire lighting systems to LED or capturing and re-using waste process heat from industrial plants.
More and more success stories
A year ago, the German government set up a subsidy program to promote waste heat recovery initiatives. The potential savings from waste heat recovery and utilization are very high, as can be seen from the experience of Aurubis, a north German copper producer. Aurubis now partners with an energy services provider to supply almost the entire district heating requirement of Hamburg’s Hafencity Ost precinct from waste heat recovered from its production processes. By 2029, the initiative will spare the planet some 4,500 metric tons of CO2 annually – all while providing an added income stream for Aurubis.
The project is an excellent poster child for industrial energy efficiency, and there are plenty of others like it. "Nowhere can match Germany for the number of energy management systems set up and certified. That's a hugely important step," says Joest. But it is only one step of many, because ultimately, all that DIN 50001 certification means is that the systems and procedures needed in order to achieve energy efficiency have been put in place. The yield in terms of actual efficiency gains depends on how well the company in question follows through.
From knowledge sharing to implementation
So, which specific efficiency measures work? And what kinds of savings can they yield? The German government's National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE) provides some useful guidance on this. "But it is also vitally important to learn from the experiences of others," Joest says. Which is why the German government and dena are running an initiative to facilitate the creation of energy efficiency networks nationwide in which companies from a wide range of industry backgrounds can band together and share knowledge. More than 1,000 companies have already signed up for the initiative.
Looking ahead, Germany’s industrial sector aims to increase its energy efficiency by 2.1 percent annually. In terms of actual improvements, it's currently sitting at just over 1 percent. "We've still got quite a bit of work to do," says Steffen Joest, "but we're headed in the right direction."
Real-time facts and figures on the energy transition
What is the growth potential of the global energy efficiency market? How much money is being invested in renewable energy worldwide? How much electricity has the world consumed so far today? For answers to these questions and more, check out the real-time infographic on the new world of energy .
These energy and energy transition themes will be explored in depth in an extensive line-up of forums, conferences and special events at Energy , the leading trade fair for integrated energy systems and mobility. Energy is part of the HANNOVER MESSE industrial technology show, and energy efficiency is one of its keynote themes.