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.
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:
The 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.