Transforming our energy system: a safe bet
Bringing about as soon as possible a shift in energy supply towards renewable sources of energy – this is the Federal Government's top priority after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. And since the most environmentally friendly type of energy is the one that is not even consumed in the first place, we must not only promote renewable sources of energy but we must, above all, reduce our energy consumption. The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development has faced up to this challenge.
The Ministry has adopted three large packages of measures to contribute to the transformation of the energy system. The funds available for the programme to reduce CO2 emissions from buildings will be increased, the performance of existing wind power plants will be improved and climate change mitigation will be more firmly anchored in building law. Thus, we can exploit the energy conservation potential and at the same time secure a reliable and reasonably priced supply of electricity.
1.5 billion euros for the refurbishment of buildings
Space heating and hot water account for around 40 per cent of the energy consumed in Germany. Two thirds of this amount is used in private households. For this reason, the Federal Government provides assistance to persons wishing to build a house and home owners if they want to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. Thus, valuable energy can be saved for any given building and its value can be increased at the same time. Funds totalling 1.5 billion euros per year will be available in the period from 2012 to 2014 to provide financial assistance to clients. This money will come from the Energy and Climate Fund. The investors can thus rely on continuity and a sound basis for planning.
Improving energy efficiency standards
Those who build a new house should pay particular attention to energy-efficient technologies and materials. The statutory energy efficiency standards currently to be met by a new building are laid down in the Energy Conservation Regulations. These will be evolved in 2012. The standards for new buildings and existing buildings will only be adjusted to the extent that is economically acceptable so that neither owners nor tenants have to bear an excessive financial burden. With regard to its future new buildings and existing properties, the Federal Government will set an example of good practice.
Improving the efficiency of existing wind power plants
The increased use of solar energy, wind energy and hydropower is one of the key elements in our strategy to transform the energy system. Wind energy in particular will be developed into a mainstay of power supply in Germany by means of efficient wind farms at suitable locations. The Federal Government is promoting this by facilitating the replacement of old wind turbines with more modern and more efficient ones, mainly in wind farms (repowering). This serves to both increase efficiency and protect the natural scenery. For this purpose, the Federal Government has initiated amendments to the Federal Building Code (section 249) which not only facilitate the designation of new land for wind power plants but also establish the required legal certainty. The relevant Act on the Promotion of Climate Change Mitigation in the Development of Towns and Cities was adopted by the German Bundestag and entered into force on 30 July 2011.
Large offshore wind farms
In the future, offshore wind farms will account for a large part of the power generated in Germany. Over the period to 2030, offshore wind generators with a capacity of around 25,000 megawatts are to be installed in Germany. After the legal bases for this had been established in the form of the First Act amending Shipping Law Provisions, the Regulations governing Offshore Installations were adapted. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency is now responsible for issuing all licences. Apart from the licence issued by this agency, no other licences are now required. In addition, the new Offshore Installations Regulations contain instruments for speeding up the procedure preceding commissioning.
Innovations in building planning law
Climate change mitigation and energy efficiency will continue to be a challenge for towns and cities. For this reason, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development has made adjustments to building law in order to facilitate measures to develop renewable energies. Pursuant to the Act on the Promotion of Climate Change Mitigation in the Development of Towns and Cities, which entered into force on 30 July 2011, local authorities now have the opportunity to take better account of climate change aspects in the planning of building projects.
Apart from individual buildings, it is above all areas with old housing stock in the city centres that need to become more energy-efficient. By amending urban development law, for instance, solutions are being supported that address entire neighbourhoods. And, since there might be individual cases where clients come into conflict with building law – for instance if, due to thermal insulation, a refurbished building has a greater wall thickness than before – the retrofitting of thermal insulation is being treated favourably under building planning law. Thus, minor deviations from the prescribed land use intensity might for example be permissible. The approval of photovoltaics installations on buildings will also be facilitated.