For quite a few companies, an energy audit is again due in 2023. The Energy Services Act has made this mandatory since 2015. This affects all companies that do not count as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – those that employ more than 250 people or have an annual turnover of more than 50 million Euros or an annual balance sheet total of more than 43 million Euros.
The audit must be repeated every four years, which means that quite a few companies will have to tackle the second repeat audit. Conditions that have changed due to the amendment of the law in 2019 must therefore be observed this time, writes Thomas Parth from the ‘BFE Institut für Energie und Umwelt’ (BFE Institute for Energy and Environment) in the February issue of the trade journal Chemie-Technik.
What are the important issues facing (chemical) companies? A new regulation on medium-term energy supply security (“EnSimiMa”) has been in effect since October 2022. It obliges all companies with an annual energy consumption of more than 10 GWh to implement it immediately. These are all the measures that have been identified in the energy audit or within the framework of an energy or environmental management system and have been assessed as economical according to DIN EN 17463. Whereby ‘without delay’ means within 18 months.
A ‘certifier’, environmental or energy auditor must confirm both the measures actually implemented and those not implemented due to a lack of economic viability. The requirements are therefore noticeably higher than before. But compared to energy management according to ISO 50001, it is still the simpler option. For the audits, it is sufficient to record energy flows temporarily, and in some cases, it is even possible to get by with estimates.
Energy Management System Yes or No?
Conversely, the introduction of an energy management system can be quite advantageous and, under certain circumstances, prevent investments from being made in the wrong place. This gives companies transparency about their consumption and enables them to understand the often complex interrelationships between different influencing factors – for example, the use of equipment or machinery and the associated processes, the production volume or even the necessary temperature. However, an important aspect in system selection is – above all – the human factor – the intuitive usability. Only if the technical manager, the energy manager, the department heads and the management are happy to use the system will they really exploit its possibilities.
And one more point may change in 2023: A draft law of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection envisages that these audits will no longer be based on the size of the company, but on energy consumption. According to this, all companies with an average annual consumption of between 2.5 and 10 GWh would have to conduct an energy audit, which must be repeated every four years. If the average total energy consumption is above 10 GWh, companies would have to introduce a mandatory energy or environmental management system. It is envisaged that this law will come into force later this year.