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Germany offers €1 billion tax breaks to make buildings more efficient

Berlin's Potsdamer Platz: The government is giving the owners of buildings like these an incentive to help their tenants save on electricity costs

GERMANY– The German government has set aside €1 billion ($1.2 billion) to fund tax breaks on energy-saving building renovations, in the hope of encouraging commercial landlords to make their buildings more efficient.

Because energy bills are usually paid by tenants, building owners can be reluctant to invest in energy-efficiency measures – and tenants often can’t make such alterations themselves. Now the government is offering to make it worth their while.

Together with an extra €200 million made available by the state-owned development bank KfW, the new measures increase the amount of government support available for energy-saving refits in Germany to €3 billion a year.

The changes come as Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy publishes its National Energy Efficiency Action Plan for the next three years, and a progress report on its transition away from heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Sigmar Gabriel, minister for economic affairs and energy (pictured), said that energy efficiency would be ‘the second pillar’ of the country’s energy transition, alongside greater use of renewables. The publication of the action plan was ‘a significant milestone’, he said.

The government is also working with business associations to set up 500 energy-efficiency networks, each with eight to fifteen member companies and an adviser, through which firms  can get advice and share experiences on saving energy.

It hopes to establish around 500 such networks by 2020, each with eight to fifteen companies, supported by an adviser.

The government said that energy-efficiency projects seeking state support will from now on have to go through a competitive tender process, to make sure that savings are delivered for the lowest upfront cost.

None of the measures in the action plan are specific to lighting, but the ministry said that it may extend an initiative encouraging the heating industry to make products compatible with the same user interfaces, to encompass lighting too.