Waste heat potential largely untapped in Germany’s energy independence push – opinion
As Germany reorients its energy policy in the wake of the Ukraine war and seeks to increase gas imports from other sources than Russia, it should also promote greater energy efficiency and make greater efforts to utilise waste heat, according to a commentaryby Andreas Lenz, member of parliament for the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group, and Andreas Sichert, CEO of Orcan Energy, which specialises in waste heat use, in business daily Handelsblatt. By focusing solely on new energy sources, Germany’s current government is largely ignoring the potential of waste heat for the country’s energy transition, they argue. In the current debate about a future energy system, policymakers are looking at immediately effective measures and long-term goalsbut overlook more understated solutions that are already economical and climate-friendly, they add.“Energy efficiency and energy conservation are still underestimated because they are not sufficiently visible and politically not sufficiently striking.” Germany could produce 23 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity annually from the waste heat of industrial processes – energy that largely remains unused, Lenz and Sichert point out. “This corresponds to the consumption of 18 percent of all households.” There are scalable technologies currently available in Germany that convert waste heat into cheap green electricity. Waste heat in the country’s cement sector alone, for example, could produce 0.71 TWh of cheaper, CO2-free electricity.
The German government in March announced a comprehensive energy savings programme as part of its push to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports. The fast buildout of renewable power sources, green hydrogen and reduced energy demand are seen as the most important solutions for the country’s energy system of the future.