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Energy Efficiency Act EnEfG – New obligations for companies

The EnEfG requires energy management systems, efficiency measures and waste heat recovery. Find out here what companies need to do now!

Franz Lanzerath

Franz Lanzerath


December 6, 2023

Heating pipes waste heat recovery industry

shutterstock / Viewfoto studio

The new Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) has been in force in Germany since 18.11.2023 and affects all companies with a final energy requirement of more than 2.5 GWh per year.

What is new is that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also affected under the EnEfG. The decisive factor is the final energy consumption of the companies and therefore also includes SMEs with high energy consumption.

Final energy refers to the energy used by the company, e.g. in the form of electricity, gas, fuels and district heating. The Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) defines two thresholds for final energy consumption, whereby the average value of the last 3 years is to be used:

  • 2.5 gigawatt hours (GWh)
  • 7.5 gigawatt hours (GWh)

To give an illustrative example: even a bakery with 20 employees can reach the threshold of 2.5 GWh.

There are also three different areas that need to be taken into account depending on the final energy consumption and the size of the company:

  • Energy and environmental management systems
  • Implementation plans for final energy saving measures
  • Use and avoidance of waste heat

You can use the following diagram to determine which obligations apply to your company:

Companies with a final energy consumption of less than 2.5 GWh per year are not affected by the Energy Efficiency Act. However, if your company consumes more than 7.5 GWh, all three areas are relevant.

If energy consumption is between 2.5 GWh and 7.5 GWh, the size of the company is also a decisive factor: for SMEs, only the requirements for waste heat utilization and avoidance apply. Large companies, on the other hand, must also draw up and publish implementation plans for energy-saving measures.

The wording in the legal text is somewhat more complicated than shown here. We will be happy to clarify with you which obligations apply to your company in individual cases.

In any case, it is clear that all companies with a final energy consumption of more than 2.5 GWh per year are affected by the Energy Efficiency Act and must take measures to use waste heat. Non-compliance could result in fines of up to €100,000.

In my opinion, the required measures for the avoidance and use of waste heat and the sensible development of energy efficiency measures can hardly be implemented without comprehensive energy and heat monitoring. I therefore recommend that all affected companies also consider introducing a monitoring system.

The Energy Efficiency Act therefore imposes many obligations on companies. However, there are also great opportunities: energy savings of up to 40 % are possible through sensible monitoring of energy and heat flows and holistic optimization of energy use and process integration. At least that is what we see in many of our projects. Measures often have short payback periods of less than 5 years and the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

In the following, however, we take a closer look at the individual areas covered by the new Energy Efficiency Act.

Energy and environmental management systems

According to Section 8 EnEfG, companies – whether large or small – with a total final energy consumption of more than 7.5 GWh must have a

  • Energy management system (EMS) in accordance with DIN EN ISO 50001 or
  • Environmental management system (EMS) according to EMAS

According to the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), this affects around 12,400 companies in Germany. The regulations of the Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) also address energy-intensive small and medium-sized companies for the first time.

The energy and environmental management systems must meet additional requirements:

  1. Recording of energy flows, process temperatures, heat-conducting media and technically avoidable and unavoidable waste heat
  2. Identification of methods to save final energy and waste heat
  3. Economic efficiency assessment of the measures

These are very extensive additions to the DIN EN ISO 50001 and EMAS regulations and will mean that many companies will have to greatly expand their energy and heat monitoring! Even if this is initially associated with a great deal of effort, it will enable companies to carry out a comprehensive analysis and optimization of their energy consumption for the first time.

The above-mentioned requirements under point 1 are - incidentally - the prerequisite for a holistic and system-oriented determination of the maximum energy saving potential, e.g. using pinch analysis. In particular, process temperatures and heat quantities are indispensable for process integration and economic evaluation of technically feasible measures. After all, without knowledge of temperature and heat quantities, it is not possible to design a heat exchanger, let alone integrate a heat pump.

It is also interesting to differentiate between technically avoidable and unavoidable waste heat. Avoidable waste heat is the part that is generated by inefficient technology, control, processes and procedures and can be avoided or reduced by applying the state of the art. The unavoidable remainder is the part that cannot be avoided with reasonable effort. The justifiable effort can in turn be determined by an economic efficiency analysis in accordance with DIN EN 17463 (VALERI).

From an energy and environmental point of view, the mandatory introduction or supplementation of energy and heat monitoring makes perfect sense. However, this will present many companies with challenges, as implementation is required within 20 months. The deadline for affected companies begins once the status has been reached (final energy consumption > 7.5 GWh) or once the Energy Efficiency Act comes into force, i.e. on 18.07.2025 at the earliest.

The fulfillment of obligations is checked by the BAFA on a random basis. Companies that have not set up a management system (EMS/UMS) or have not done so correctly, completely or in good time may face fines of up to €100,000. All companies with final energy consumption of more than 7.5 GWh are therefore strongly advised to take a close look at the new Energy Efficiency Act, even if they already have management systems in place. This is because in most cases these will probably not meet the additional requirements of the new EnEfG.

Implementation plans for final energy saving measures

The Energy Efficiency Act also contains regulations for companies with a total final energy consumption of more than 2.5 GWh. According to Section 9 EnEfG, companies that

  • operate an energy or environmental management system in accordance with Section 8 EnEfG or Section 8 (3) EDL-G or
  • have completed an energy audit in accordance with Section 8 EDL-G after November 18, 2023

create, review and publish implementation plans for energy-saving measures.

In other words, this regulation primarily affects the following companies:

  • all companies with a total final energy consumption > 7.5 GWh, as they must operate an EMS/UMS in accordance with Section 8 EnEfG
  • Non-SMEs with a total final energy consumption > 2.5 GWh, as they must operate an EMS/UMS or carry out energy audits from 0.5 GWh in accordance with Section 8 EDL-G.

Companies that are neither obliged to operate an energy or environmental management system nor to carry out energy audits are not initially affected by this regulation.

All other companies have implementation plans within 3 years

  • of economic end energy saving measures,
  • to have these reviewed by independent experts,
  • and subsequently published.

The economic efficiency analysis should be carried out in accordance with VALERI / DIN EN 17463 (Dec 2021). A measure is considered cost-effective if a positive net present value results after a maximum of 50 percent of the useful life. Furthermore, only measures with a maximum useful life of 15 years are to be considered.

An important point is the review by independent experts. Both the completeness and the correctness of the implementation plans must be confirmed by independent third parties. This means that the persons who set up the relevant systems in the companies or carried out the audits are not allowed to issue these confirmations. Independent third parties who are either EMAS environmental verifiers, accredited DIN EN ISO 50.001 certifiers or BAFA-approved energy auditors in accordance with the EDL-G must be commissioned for this purpose.

The Energy Efficiency Act provides for fines of up to €50,000 for companies that do not prepare, confirm and publish the implementation plans, or do not do so correctly, completely or on time. In individual cases, each company should therefore check whether it is obliged to draw up implementation plans.

Waste heat

Finally, the Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) also contains specific regulations on the use and avoidance of waste heat. All companies with a total final energy consumption of more than 2.5 GWh must use waste heat

  • avoid and reduce
  • reuse
  • report on the "Platform for waste heat"

The only exception is for climate-neutral companies.

Waste heat must be avoided in accordance with the state of the art and reduced to the proportion of technically unavoidable waste heat, insofar as this is possible and reasonable. According to the Energy Efficiency Act, technical, economic and operational considerations must be taken into account within the scope of reasonableness.

In practice, this means that companies will hardly be able to avoid systematic monitoring of their process flows, as defined in the additional requirements for energy and environmental management systems.

The reuse of waste heat through energy-saving measures and technologies is also only possible through a holistic analysis of the process flows. The Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) explicitly states that waste heat recovery measures must not be limited to the respective plant, but must also include potential uses of waste heat on the company premises and with external third parties. In addition, the recovered waste heat should be reused several times in a cascade, according to its exergy content or in decreasing temperature steps, in order to achieve the greatest possible efficiency gains. In other words, this is the definition of a pinch analysis.

Many companies will therefore have to make great efforts in the near future to expand their monitoring, systematically analyze their energy consumption and reduce and reuse their waste heat in accordance with the provisions of the Energy Efficiency Act. Otherwise they face fines of up to €100,000

Platform for waste heat

Furthermore, the remaining, technically unavoidable waste heat must be reported electronically on the "Platform for Waste Heat" by March 31 each year. The following information, among others, must be provided:

  • Company and location
  • Annual heat quantity and maximum thermal output
  • Temporal availability: output profiles over the course of the year
  • Possibilities for regulating temperature, pressure and feed-in
  • Average temperature level

Here, too, it is clear that a monitoring system covering all process flows is required to record, process and report this data.

For the first year, the reporting deadline has been postponed until 1.7.2024, as the platform for waste heat is not yet available. In this respect, the short deadlines also seem to be causing some headaches for the Federal Agency for Energy Efficiency (BfEE) as the operator of the platform.

In the meantime, an "Information sheet for the waste heat platform" has been published, which specifies some of the details for reporting the data. For example, "performance profiles over the course of the year" refers to monthly values. De minimis limits are also discussed in the information sheet, but not defined. As things stand at present, all waste heat sources with temperatures above 20°C must be reported. If companies do not report the information or do not report it correctly, completely or on time, fines of up to €50,000 can be imposed.

Conclusion on the Energy Efficiency Act EnEfG

Looking at all the regulations and obligations that companies will face under the new Energy Efficiency Act, I believe there is extreme pressure to act. Not only the scope of the required measures, but also the short deadlines are likely to lead to major challenges for companies:

  • Advanced energy or environmental management systems – 20 months
  • Implementation plans for energy-saving measures – 3 years
  • Avoidance, use and reporting of waste heat  – annually by March 31

I am particularly critical of the current lack of specialists and energy efficiency experts required for implementation. It therefore remains to be seen to what extent the required measures can even be implemented within the deadlines and whether and to what extent fines will actually be imposed. I could imagine that serious efforts to comply with the new Energy Efficiency Act will be rewarded accordingly.

However, I also see great opportunities offered by the Energy Efficiency Act. The specifications for monitoring process flows - temperatures and heat quantities - create the basis for holistic optimization of energy systems! Only with this information is it possible to carry out sensible process integration, design storage systems and integrate renewable energies and heat pumps. In most cases, this information is still missing today and must be painstakingly and laboriously determined. This is often only insufficiently successful, as measurement technology has to be retrofitted. However, if the information is available, then energy savings of 20 % to 40 % are realistic. And since we are talking about energy volumes in excess of 2.5 GWh here, the effort involved is quickly put into perspective by the new Energy Efficiency Act.

In any case, it is urgently advisable to deal with the new circumstances and we will support our customers to the best of our ability in implementing them. After all, we don't want to take the Federal Office for Energy Efficiency (BfEE) and its delayed platform for waste heat as an example. 😉

Franz Lanzerath


Franz Lanzerath

Managing Director

TLK Energy

Dr.-Ing. Franz Lanzerath received his doctorate at the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at RWTH Aachen University. Since 2007 he has been intensively engaged in the model-based development of thermal systems. One of his main interests is the interface between model and experiment, i.e. model calibration and validation. At TLK Energy he is responsible for the transfer of the latest scientific methods and findings into industrial practice.

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