Last changed: 22/03/12
Energy conversion is closely linked to many environmental issues. Various departments at the Federal Environment Agency therefore focus on the subject of energy. Whether it be production process assessment, the impact of wind power units on protection of the oceans, or ecological fiscal reform, energy always plays a major role. Energy-related activities are the primary focus of Department I 4 ”Climate Protection, Environment, and Energy” of the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA), which was established in November 2004. It has a staff of 52 (as of April 2007) and comprises 6 Sections whose work in the area of energy is outlined below. Other sections of the Agency whose focus is on energy-related topics are subsequently introduced.
As in other areas, energy at the Federal Environment Agency is seen within a framework of sustainable development. In addition to conservation of resources and avoiding pollution for the sake of future generations, climate protection is a key goal of sustainability. Climate policy goals represent a decisive yardstick for future energy policy. These policy goals are developed by Section I 4.1 ”Climate Protection” who also introduce them into international negotiations.
A core issue for Section I 2.2 ”Sustainable Energy Supply” is how sustainable energy policy can achieve the objectives of climate policy. It concentrates on climate policy measures and devises strategies and scenarios for energy supply of the future. In addition to its core topics, others in this section include: increasing efficiency in power plants and new technologies in energy production.
Sustainable energy supply would be impossible without a gradual switch to wind and solar energies, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower. Section I 2.3 ”Renewable Energies” analyses potentials and possible grant instruments, makes proposals for appropriate instruments and measures. The Renewable Energies Act plays a key role as well as a smooth transition from the existing energy system to one which is supplied by renewable energies.
Given the growing global hunger for energy, it is a given that energy is too precious to waste. Section I 2.4 "Energy Efficiency" therefore investigates how the enormous potential to save energy in buildings, electronics and industry can be tapped and extended through technological improvements. The Federal Government’s voluntary agreement to produce 30% less CO2 emissions at federal institutions than in 1990 by the year 2010 is an important issue.
Sound political decision-making requires a good database. Section I 2.5 ”Energy Supply and Energy Data” collects and evaluates data on energy conversion and consumption. Special focus is on the calculation of the energetic use of fossil fuels. These calculations, in addition to other data, form the basis for computing air pollutant emissions in Germany, a job which is taken on by Section I 2.6 ”Emissions Situation”, the results of which are the foundation of emissions reporting within the scope of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, and which are channelled to various different domains at a national, European, and international level.
Current energy law issues are the concern of Section I 1.3 ”Environmental Law”. These issues include finding an appropriate legal framework for improved energy efficiency among end-consumers as well as promoting renewable energies on the heating market. German energy law has been subjected to rapid change and is characterised in many respects by European precepts. The significance of international initiatives is on the rise, especially as concerns renewable energies.
Section III 2.3 "Chemical Industry, Energy Production" focuses on firing installations within the energy production segment, starting with the small single-room heater through to large firing installations at lignite or black coal power plants. They are concerned with the facility technology and a cross-media approach and evaluation of the environmental impacts of the energy produced. This concerns in particular emissions of climate gases and air pollutants, water consumption, waste water pollution, and production and utilisation of ash and filter dust. Moreover, this section is in charge of issuing the emissions factors for firing installations for the purpose of international emissions reporting, e.g. as per the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or the Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.