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Gas consumption in Germany was 14.7 percent lower in the first half of 2022 than in the previous year according to preliminary results released by the BDEW (“German Association of Energy and Water Industries”). Milder weather in spring was most likely responsible for most of the decrease to 497 billion kilowatt hours, however an eight percent drop remains even when factoring in adjustments for temperature effects. Rising gas prices, economic uncertainty and personally motivated savings have all contributed to the fall in consumption, although electricity generation from natural gas has been declining since the middle of 2021. Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck has called on Germany to cut natural gas use by 20 percent as the government carries out new measures in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) launched a nationwide advertising campaign in June to promote energy savings. The “80 million together for energy change” awareness campaign is calling on the public to counter the energy crisis caused by rising energy costs and the conflict in Ukraine. "Of course, those of us in politics will also have to put our own house in order and save more ourselves," said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck. Ending Germany’s dependency on Russian oil imports can only be achieved through more renewable energy use and increased energy efficiencies across the board according to the BMWK. "Only by pulling together will we be able to bring about the energy switch - a rapid switch from fossil fuels to renewables" said minister Habeck. Accelerating the expansion of renewable energies, making energy savings the new norm by law and promoting them in funding programs are now at the top of the Federal Government's agenda.
Around 90 terawatts of natural gas could be saved by the industrial use of heat pumps and electrode boilers according to the Agora think tank. Industry could achieve up to three quarters of the natural gas savings set out in the European REPowerEU plan up to 2030 by using heat pump technology. Implementation would also see one fifth (12.5 metric tons) of the greenhouse gas savings required by industry during the same period under the Climate Protection Act. Almost half of all industry process heat demand is below the 500 degrees Celsius threshold required to realize the projected savings. Agora is calling for regulatory change and increased subsidies to make heat pumps and electrode boilers attractive to industry.
A Freiburg-based spin-off from Fraunhofer ISE has developed a high-precision printing technology for the semiconductor sector with a specific focus on solar cells. Established in 2020, HighLine Technology makes use of Fraunhofer’s high-end PVTEC laboratory environment to develop efficient printing technologies and processes for the semiconductor industry with established automation manufacturers. The High-Tech Gründerfonds-backed company has developed a parallel dispensing technology that supports more efficient printing processes and process optimization in terms of silver consumption, cell and module efficiency and production throughput. A demonstrator can currently be seen at Fraunhofer ISE’s PVTECH laboratory.
Specialist tech start-ups are helping property owners create tenant power systems in apartment blocks across Germany. Cologne-based start-up Einhundert Energie is supporting a project in Düsseldorf to equip 150 properties owned by real estate company Rheinwohnungsbau with photovoltaic systems. Tenants of the properties will then have the option of drawing their power from their own roofs at a rate around 10 percent cheaper than the tariff of the basic supplier. Increasing energy prices have created renewed interest in solar energy provision – to date limited to single-family homes. Einhundert Energie subsidiary Solarimo and Polarstern are also serving larger real estate companies as full-service providers in order to circumvent the legal framework that insists that providers of electricity be energy suppliers. Pionierkraft and Metergrid are two companies that are targeting smaller apartment buildings and homeowner associations for their smart meter billing and system installation and operation services. Demand is growing with Einhundert Energie raising EUR 6.5 million funding in a recent financing round.
Samsung C&T Deutschland GmbH and SungEel have announced planst to invest EUR 62 million in the construction of a lithium battery recycling plant in Rudolstadt-Schwarza. According to the companies’ plans, around 150 new jobs will be created in the region by 2030. The new facility will recycle batteries that have not made it through the manufacturers’ quality control processes or returned batteries that would otherwise be disposed of by the manufacturers.