Oliver Rechenbach: The challenge of the move to alternative energies requires good advice

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Due to rising energy prices, the finite nature of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change, the transition to alter­­na­­­tive energies is one of the great chal­­len­ges of our time. The focus of this is on transition from a central to a local ener­­gy economy which relies on savings, efficien­cy and renewable energies. For Rhineland-­Palatinate, the state government has for­­­mulated the goal of gaining 100 per cent of its electricity financially from renewable energy sources by 2030.

This ambitious goal can only be achieved together with the state’s people, local government, businesses and organisations. The role of Energieagentur Rhein­­land-Pfalz, formed on the basis of the state government’s coalition agreement in summer 2012, is to drive the transition to alternative energies forward in the state. Independent of party-political, economic or other specific interests, the energy agency is the central point of con­­­­tact for the many and varied aspects of the transition to alternative energies, and for every target group. It brings together actors and actions from local government, science, business, associations and social organisations from across the state, strength­­­­e­­­ning their opportunities for dialogue ­­­and effectiveness. The energy agency is firmly anchored in the public domain as a competence centre and instigator. Be­­cause it is financed by funds from the Ministry for Business, Climate Protec­­tion, Energy and State Planning, everything the energy agency offers is free.

Energy efficiency begins in  the early property planning.

Energy efficiency begins in the early property planning.

 

 

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40 staff work for Energieagentur Rhein­­land-Pfalz at its headquarters in Kaisers­­lautern. They are experts in areas in­­cluding the various technologies for renew­­­able energies, funding programmes, and international and scientific coope­r­ation; they offer information meetings for com­­panies and local government; and they teach teachers, clubs and schools how to use energy consciously.

The foundation of regional offices in 2013 will allow the energy agency to bring the transition to alternative energies even better to the state’s citizens where they are, across the entire state. Ten regional energy agencies are planned. The head­­quarters and main tasks of each agency will be defined together in meetings with representatives of the local government and districts, as well as the actors on site.

Expertise, information tailored to different target groups and motivation on the topics of saving energy, energy efficiency and renewable energies are the key pillars of Energieagentur Rheinland-Pfalz. To achieve this, its staff attend trade fairs, markets, and information and discussion events in person and offer training courses for a range of target groups. In me­­et­­ings and expert presentations, the ener­­gy agency provides interested citizens with information on the options for saving energy at home by using just simple meth­­ods and without great expense. It gives tips on energy-efficient household appli­­ances, lighting and correct heating and ventilation.

Increasing energy prices are causing many current and future home owners to face the issue of energy efficiency in buildings. The energy agency provides initial infor­­­mation on energy-efficient construction and renovation, when energy-related reno­­vation is a viable option, how renewable energies can be used usefully and which funding options are available. Those in­­­ter­ested can also gain answers to these ques­­tions via the telephone hotline.

Energy consultants can also benefit from the extensive range of information avail­­able. They provide detailed advice for pri­­vate individuals, local government or com­­panies who want to implement energy effi­­ciency measures in new and old buildings.

The annual energy consultancy day run by the energy agency offers energy con­­­sultants the chance to gain an overview of new developments in the energy sector, legal conditions and financial support op­­tions from expert presentations. Organ­ised jointly by the state energy agency and the Ministry for Business and Ener­gy, the energy consultancy day has establish­ed itself as a platform for information and communication. In order to make finding a suitable energy consultant easier, the Rhineland-Palatinate energy consultant database has been set up. Consultants can add their names to this database and present themselves and the focuses of their activities.

Small and medium-sized companies can also benefit from the transition to alternative energies in Rhineland-Palatinate, since the efficient use of energy saves costs and can bring advantages in com­­­petition. For companies in Rhineland-Pa­­­latinate, the energy agency offers free ini­­tial consultations about funding pro­gram­­mes and options for improving energy ef­­ficiency. As the network hub of the Effi­­zienznetz Rheinland­Pfalz (EffNet), a cen­­tral, interdisciplinary information and con­­­sultancy platform for small and medium-­sized companies, the energy agency makes contact with other consultancy bodies in the state. The energy agency holds the energy efficiency consultancy day for small and medium-sized businesses twice a year. At this event, companies and ener­­gy con­­sultants can obtain information about the various aspects of consultancy in companies and make new contacts. Cur­­­­rent developments in the energy efficie­n­­cy measures sector are tackled and new technological developments presented in the “Energy Efficiency in Companies” series of events.

The energy agency is also a good dialogue partner for local government. Many muni­cipalities are wondering about how they and their residents can benefit from re­­newable energies. The state government supports the municipalities in planning and executing events and advises them on supplying energy efficiently to muni­ci­pal buildings and properties. It provides information about the investment options in renewable energies and supports municipalities in becoming active in this area themselves and in driving their own projects forward.

With the Infomobil, the energy agency approaches people where they are. It stops on market squares or at regional events. From it, those interested can gain information on energy-saving tips for the home, energy-efficient construc­­tion and modernisation and funding pro­­­gram­­mes from the state and federal governments.

 

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It is also important to sensitise young people to the issues of climate protection, energy efficiency and renewable energies. The energy agency therefore supports schools both in project and campaign days and in ordinary lessons. Energy is also a topic for church communities and social institutions. The energy agency there­­­­fore also offers presentations on en­­­er­gy efficiency in their buildings, as well as training on using energy consciously.

Showing what’s happening in the state. The role of the state energy agency is to publicise how the transition to alternative energies is being implemented in Rhineland-Palatinate.

In its newsletter, the energy agency re­­­­­por­­ts on exemplary projects on energy ef­­­­fi­­cien­­cy and the use of renewable energies in mu­­­nicipalities, companies and science. In addi­­­tion, it documents projects which have been implemented as part of the fun­­ding programme for highly efficient buil­­dings, run by the Ministry for Business, Climate Pro­­­tection, Energy and State Plan­­ning.

Energieagentur Rheinland-Pfalz online:
www.energieagentur.rlp.de
www.twitter.com/energie_rlp

Oliver-Rechenbach-KopieThe author studied Civil Engineering at the University of Kaiserslautern and was a lecturer there. In 2002, he became the deputy managing director and branch manager of EffizienzOffensive Energie Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. He has been managing director of Energieagentur Rhein­­land-Pfalz GmbH, based in Kaisers­lau­tern, since 2012.