Lucia Puttrich: Hessen the energy state – powered by nature

Hessen is a modern state in the heart of Europe and located in central Germany. Hessen is world famous because of its Rhine-Main financial centre in Frankfurt am Main, the cultural metropolis of Kassel, its treasures of very old beech trees and its excellent wines from the Rheingau and the Bergstraße. But Hessen can also offer modern, future-oriented energy and environmental policies.

Hessen’s energy policies are oriented to three basic conditions: security of supply, low cost and environmental friendliness. Security of supply means ensuring a sufficient supply of energy carriers to satisfy demand at all times. Low cost and thus economy, can only be achieved via market-based structures and functioning competition. These are the best pre­­re­­q­­­uisites for the efficient supply and use of energy. They also include social respon­­sibility: Energy must be affordable for everybody, for the manufacturing industry and for private consumers. The third aspect of Hessen’s energy policies is their environ­­mental friendliness, defined as the most sparing use of natural re­­sources and achiev­­ing the best possible climate protection.

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The main aspects of our energy policies are the optimisation of energy efficiency, this means the minimisation of the use of primary energy sources and the rational use of energies, along with the expansion of renewable energy carriers. By 2020 we plan to cover 20 per cent of final energy consumption (excluding transport) with renewable energies. Hessen is very com­­petent in the efficient use of energy. In Southern Hessen, in the heart of Europe, the “victory parade” of passive house technology in the world began as early as 1980. After Hessen recognised the importance of energy efficiency at that time, the state government has since pushed ahead with this policy, as energy-efficient buildings are economic, efficient, environmentally friendly and use fewer resources. Energy efficiency is the most significant potential for achieving climate protection. It is the condition for the general use of renewable energies and provides about 70 per cent of the necessary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Along with the aim of reducing final energy consumption in all areas, the increase in energy efficiency is a central element in Hessen’s energy and climate policies.
To reduce energy consumption in buildings and thereby permanently reduce CO2 emissions, qualified planners, building companies and tradesmen are just as necessary as research into innovative technologies. Subsidies in this area are therefore a matter of course. One exciting and unique project is the main project “HIER!” (“Hessen for Innovation in Energy and Resource Efficiency”). Well-known companies have teamed up with the Uni­­versity of Kassel for this project, which includes a new communications approach and combines elements of preliminary and advanced vocational training as well as innovation. The project essentially has an integrated view of energy supply, infra­­structure and production processes. Com­­panies receive assistance in developing products that reduce energy consumption while helping increase energy productivity in manufacturing processes. Coop­e­­ration between companies, universities and a non-profit-making institute holds an intimate link-up between science and business and ensures that scientific know­­­ledge is quickly transferred to practical application. Besides the practical know­­ledge for small and medium-sized companies, “HIER!” will also make an impor­­tant contribution to reviving the growth market in energy efficiency.

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It is a fact that about 40 per cent of ultimate energy use is used for indoor heating and heating up warm water. We have to face this fact in order to halve this consumption rate with the use of modern building and plant technology without any corresponding loss of comfort. In order to exhaust the existing savings potential, Hessen’s state government has started “Hessische EnergiesparAktion” (Hessen’s Savings Campaign). This is because over one million decision makers – such as house owners, tenants and energy advisors – need information in order to act, and this information is provided by the “Hes­sische EnergiesparAktion”. We also have plans to increase energy efficiency in electricity use. In all areas of use, 30 to 50 per cent of electricity consumption can be reduced without any loss of comfort or production, for example by minimising conversion losses in conventional power generation, using devices with standard stand-by switches, modern street lights and high-efficiency motors for pumps, ventilators and compressors. These are opportunities for investors in Hessen.

The reason for this is that energy efficiency is one of the motors of innovation.
This applies to the supply of end-user and industrial energy and all energy-consuming processes and equipment. Efficient technologies are becoming our most important export factor and, of course, energy savings also increase company competitiveness.

Hessen places special emphasis on expanding the application of renewable energies. In this context, biomass is a particular point of emphasis. In Hessen, one of the most afforested states in Germany, specially grown energy plants and waste are used to generate heat and power as fuels obtained from rene­­wable raw materials and biomass from the forestry industry and agriculture. Biomass is also ecologically sustainable and CO2 neutral. It is easy to store and creates value in rural areas. Hessen’s state government has subsidised the use of biologically based raw materials since 1999. Subsidies are paid for measures and programmes for obtaining energy in an environmentally friendly fashion through the use of re­­new­­able raw materials from agriculture and forestry.

But supplying energy in a highly industrialised state as Hessen cannot be implemented securely, at low cost and in an environmentally friendly fashion with renewable energy carriers overnight. Nevertheless, we are convinced that we can achieve this aim with the support of all sections of society.

 

Puttrich_EB08-0006_72_60The author, who was born in 1961, studied business administration at the Gießen Institute of Technology. From 1995 to 2009, she was mayor of the city of Nidda. She has been a member of the presidium of the Hessian branch of Germany’s conser­­vative CDU party since 2002 and a CDU member of the Wetterau county council since 2006. On 31 August 2010, Lucia Puttrich began her term of office as Hessen’s State Minister of the Environ­­ment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.