Germany moves ahead with energy efficiency law, amid ongoing EU talks

Germany is charging ahead with its own energy savings law, amid ongoing negotiations in Brussels over the EU’s flagship Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), according to documents seen by EURACTIV.

On Monday (17 October), Chancellor Olaf Scholz ordered his government to present a “very ambitious law to increase energy efficiency.”

A draft has been ready since June, but the government could not agree on it, due to reluctance by the liberal FDP, EURACTIV understands.

But despite Scholz’s push for more ambition, the draft seen by EURACTIV indicates Germany may fall short of EU targets currently being negotiated in Brussels.

By 2030, Germany aims to save 500 Terawatt hours (TWh) of energy thanks to measures set out in the new law, a figure which corresponds to a 9% energy saving goal.

While this is in line with the European Commission’s original proposal for the EED, tabled in July 2021, the EU’s level ambition has since been revised upwards because of the war in Ukraine.

In 2021, the Commission proposed a 9% reduction in final energy use from 2020 to 2030. That objective was increased to 13% under the Commission’s REPowerEU plan presented in May. In June, EU countries agreed on a common position that stuck with the 9% target while the European Parliament voted for 14.5% objective in September.

In Brussels, policymakers are gearing up for difficult negotiations to finalise the EED before the end of the year.

“We made clear to the Council that we have a strong common position in the Parliament, and the Council knows they have to move,” said Niels Fuglsang, a Danish MEP who is the Parliament’s lead negotiator on the EED.

Fuglsang made the comments on 13 October as part of a debriefing with the Parliament’s industry committee following the first round of negotiations on the EED.

New German energy efficiency law

Meanwhile, the German government is in the final stretch of adopting its own energy efficiency law. And the Ministry for Economy and Climate Protection acknowledges that the law may have to be adapted following the the EED’s adoption.

The document seen by EURACTIV foresees primary and final energy targets for 2030, 2040 and 2045. These targets should be compatible with “national climate goals” and correspond to the “current proposal” by the European Commission for the revision of the EED.

Until 2030, the law promises savings of at least 500 TWh. The German Parliament will be informed “regularly” on the level of progress and decide “if necessary” whether the mix of instruments should be adjusted.

Starting in 2024, the federal government must make annual final energy savings of 45 TWh. Meanwhile, the German states must save 5 TWh per year. As some are larger than others, the load will be distributed “appropriately.” The federal government should bundle its measures by March 2023 in an energy efficiency action plan, according to the document.

Public authorities should lead from the front, the document highlights. The federal government, states and municipalities must enact measures to save 2% of final energy use per year.

Companies that consume more than 10 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy per year must implement energy management schemes and enact measures that are deemed economically sensible. Smaller companies consuming 2.5 GWh must conduct energy audits.

Additionally, companies must either avoid waste heat in production processes or use it themselves, provided it is economically sensible. They must also inform district heating grid operators, who could use the energy to heat homes.

Data centres will be obliged to follow suit. New data centres must use 40% of their waste heat, generated by the servers during regular operation. Larger centres consuming 1 Megawatt, 100 Kilowatt for public ones, must implement, validate and certify energy management schemes.

Lastly, companies like steelmakers and power plants, which are covered by the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) and were previously exempt, will also be subject to mandatory energy efficiency measures.


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