Energy transition. A term which we have not been able to ignore for years. Nor will we be able to ignore in the years to come. Germany already took the important step away from nuclear energy to renewables following Fukushima. Other countries, such as France, are now following suit. In this context, the "energy transition" is not just a turn towards more renewable energies: at the same time, there is a consistent drive to promote more efficient use of energy.
The term, energy transition, has dominated our everyday lives ever since the reactor disaster of Fukushima in 2011. At that time, the German government reversed previous decisions and systematically initiated the exit from nuclear energy. All nuclear power stations are to be shut down by 2022. Away from nuclear energy to renewable energies. The European Commission has recognised that this alone is not sufficient for the success of the energy transition. In 2012, the European Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) obliged all member states to systematically save energy. Among other things, the EED stipulates that in Europe multi-family buildings with a central heating system are to be equipped with appropriate heat cost allocators or heat meters by the end of 2016 to create greater awareness of energy consumption among residents.
The law also provides for final energy consumption to be halved by 2050.
France is now picking up on this and recently passed a comprehensive reform law on the energy transition, the Transition Law. Not only is the share of nuclear power to fall considerably within 10 years – the law also aims at halving final energy consumption by 2050. In order to achieve these goals, the French government intends to advance building refurbishment, promote electric cars and provide new financing possibilities for renewable energies. Furthermore, it is obliging residents in France to adopt submetering, in other words, the individual recording, billing and transparent visualisation of energy consumption data in multi-family buildings. The reading of individual cold water consumption has already been standard practice in France for years and now heat and hot water are no longer to be allocated to residents according to square metres. France is therefore another major European member state to implement the requirements of the EED in a first step. In this way, consumption is to be reduced, efficiency increased and the environment protected.
Submetering in the public sector
Such a low-investment measure with a comparatively large effect as submetering is of particular importance, especially for the lower-income sections of the population: empirical values in countries such as Germany or Denmark, which have already been issuing tenants with individual heating cost bills for decades, show that this transparency substantially increases motivation to reduce personal consumption and the associated costs. The EU Commission estimates the annual savings that can be achieved in this way at 15 to 25% of the respective heat consumption in multi-family buildings.
As soon as there is any irregularity and more water flows than usual, an alarm signal is transmitted and also shown to the customer on the web portal.
Five million of the multi-family buildings in France are state-owned social housing. Here, energy consumption is largely allocated to the tenants according to apartment size. With the new law, this now has to change. To help tenants reduce their energy and water consumption themselves, the law stipulates that landlords in the social housing sector also have to provide their tenants with their individual consumption data at least once a year and, on this basis, bill the appropriate actual costs. A huge benefit for the tenants as they can therefore control and regulate their consumption independently. In the new build sector this must even take place on a monthly basis, as stipulated in the Energy Efficiency Standard RT 2012. Therefore, another step is being taken towards more transparency and therefore greater energy savings.
Saving costs with leakage detection
Consumption transparency is not new in France: France is regarded as a forerunner, especially as regards water consumption. Water losses due to pipe damage can remain undetected for a long period and lead to nasty surprises in the bills not only for the landlord but also for the tenant. Up to four litres of water an hour can be wasted by a dripping water tap. A faulty toilet flushing system even wastes five times that amount. The energy service provider, ista France, has therefore developed an early warning system for excessive water losses for the French market. The water flow is transmitted by radio to ista at regular intervals by the meters installed anyway for billing. As soon as there is any irregularity and more water flows than usual, an alarm signal is transmitted and also shown to the customer on the web portal. Repair work can be quickly initiated and soaring costs avoided. By way of comparison: average water consumption costs run at 660 euros a year. A simple toilet leak can easily double this figure. This alarm function is being extended to other areas, such as temperature or the development of smoke, thus providing a networked smart system which fully exploits the opportunities of digitisation and contributes to increased efficiency and climate protection.
Social housing = smart buildings – a contradiction?
Whether water or heat – integrated solutions for the real estate industry are necessary so that house owners and property managers can record and process data fully automatically and, on this basis, prepare individual bills. Aareon’s software solutions in combination with ista’s energy management systems now offer maximum data protection and quality on the French market as well.
Social housing managers and the state are even going one step further and looking for strong partners such as ista to make the buildings even smarter and therefore more efficient. Bundled offerings, which combine consumption data with heating system control for example, and provide the various parties with information on portals, are just initial examples which ista is investigating. These topics are gaining even more importance and enjoying a boost in France thanks to public events such as, for example, the UN Climate Conference 2015 in Paris (COP21).
Picture credits: grasundsterne