Better energy efficiency for public authorities, companies and data centres

The new Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) is to ensure a more efficient use of energy by public authorities, companies and data centres. The key details at a glance.

Grüne Äste und Bäume spiegeln sich in Glasfronten.© Adobe Stock / Artinum

If Germany is to reach its energy-related climate targets, we need to rely more on renewables and improve our energy efficiency levels. Where energy is used more efficiently, it is possible to conserve more of it. This is important for the climate, but will also improve security of supply and save money.

A clear legal framework for greater energy efficiency

For the first time, the Energy Efficiency Act creates a clear legal framework for greater energy efficiency and sets out clear energy efficiency targets. It also stipulates specific efficiency measures for the public sector and for companies, as well as efficiency standards for data centres.

Efficiency measures for the federation and the Länder

As of 2024, the federation and the Länder are under obligation to take energy conservation measures to reduce their final energy consumption by an annual 45 terawatt hours for the federation and by 3 terawatt hours for the Länder up to 2030. Existing measures, such as funding measures, can be counted towards the targets. The public sector is to lead by example on energy efficiency: all public sector agencies at federal and Länder level need to introduce an energy or environmental management system if their energy consumption is high. Energy efficiency measures are to bring down Germany’s final energy consumption by up to two per cent every year.

Specific obligations for companies

Apart from obliging the federation and the Länder to conserve energy, the Act also sets out specific duties for companies: Companies whose energy consumption exceeds 2.5 gigawatt hours per year must develop plans for implementing economically viable energy efficiency measures and publish these. They are free to decide what measures they implement.

Harness undiscovered conservation potential in companies

Drawing up the plans will allow companies to systematically discover untapped potential for energy conservation. Measures might include improving the energy performance of buildings and campuses, a switch to energy-efficient heating systems (especially heat pumps) and the phase-out of fossil fuels in exchange for renewables.

A focus on energy efficiency and digitisation

Digitisation and the growing importance of data centres create a need for the latter to be as energy-efficient and climate-friendly as possible. Under the Energy Efficiency Act, new data centres must comply with technical energy efficiency standards and ensure the use of waste heat as of 1 July 2026.

Data centres must introduce energy management or environmental management systems and have these validated or certified if the connected power exceeds one megawatt. The same requirement applies for public-sector data centres with a connected power exceeding 300 kilowatts.

Energy efficiency register for data centres

There is also an energy efficiency register for data centres that collects information on energy consumption. In future customers of data centres will be informed about their energy consumption. The requirements also put in place the part of the section on ‘sustainability in digitisation’ in the Coalition Agreement.

Private households not in the focus here

The measures under the Energy Efficiency Act are addressed to large public and private-sector energy consumers and data centres. Because of their high consumption of energy, they have major potential for better energy efficiency. Private households can use the website (German only) to access comprehensive information on measures to conserve energy and on funding that is available.