There is no question that energy is costly. Costs for this resource have quadrupled since 2000, according to the German Energy Agency, with the planned energy transition also contributing to this trend.
This development hits business particularly hard. Industry, trade and services account for some 45 percent of total energy consumption in Germany.
So efficient use of this resource makes economic sense, as well as being an environmental imperative. The German Energy Agency estimates that companies could reduce their energy needs by 30 percent using standard efficiency measures.
Decreasing energy and resource costs within the company will become a key success factor for business competitiveness in the coming years. And the experts say that industry, trade and services are far from taking full advantage of this potential.
Audit or management system
Policymakers have known this for some time, and introduced periodic energy audits for companies along with implementation of the EU energy efficiency guidelines.
Manufacturing companies only receive tax incentives or a reduced EEG (renewable energies act) reallocation charge if they meet the corresponding standards: Since December 2015, all companies that do not fall under the EU SME definition are required to conduct an energy audit at least once every four years.
Non-SME companies are those with more than 250 employees or more than €50 million in annual revenue.
Companies that have installed an energy management system are exempt from the energy audit requirement. Such energy management systems (EnMS) provide guidance and assistance in developing more efficient energy utilization in the company.
As part of a targeted energy management approach, businesses can collect detailed data on their energy consumption, identify potential savings and execute energy efficiency measures. This leads to significantly greater, more cost effective and sustainable energy savings than implementing discrete measures.
However, there are no mandatory standards stipulating what exactly an energy management system should look like. It is up to the company to determine whether it chooses a DIN EN ISO 5001 certified system with clearly defined standards.
Lower costs, less CO2
Small and medium-sized companies especially can not only optimize their own energy systems and save money with a comprehensive energy management approach, but also contribute to a successful energy transition by doing so. By intelligently coupling the heat, power and electromobility sectors within the company, industry and manufacturing facilities for example can grow their use of energy from renewable resources, and significantly reduce their CO2 emissions.
But even if companies recognize the usefulness of energy management systems, they are not necessarily taking advantage of all the possibilities they offer. A survey by the Siegen Chamber of Industry and Commerce of its members indicates the importance of this topic – 80 percent of respondents viewed rated it as “important” or “very important” – but only 42 percent had an EnMS in their own firm.
This could be due to the fact that a functioning energy management system requires the corresponding IT system support. Suitable sensors, data transfer solutions and targeted Big Data assessment are needed to be able to collect and process the requisite data in real time. In other words, establishing an EnMS is part and parcel of digitization – which is currently still in its infancy for many companies.
At this year’s Hannover Messe, energy management is the focus of the Digital Energy special event being held as part of the Energy flagship trade fair.
The focus is on:
- measurement and sensor technologies;
- cloud computing;
- data security;
- display technology;
- energy IoT solutions;
- building control engineering and automation;
- energy engineering and automation; and
- smart lighting control.