In July 2016, Germany scored the most number of points in the ‘Overall National Energy Efficiency Efforts’, ‘Buildings’, and ‘Industry’ categories in the third edition of the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy (ACEE) annual report, a piece of news that Germany Trade and Invest shared with Climate Control Middle East.¹ The milestone achievement was the fruit of the country’s steadfast and collective commitment to implement Energiewende, which directly translates to energy transition. Though nothing new, in light of COP 21 and other similar global policies, the Energiewende was deemed to be exceptional for its remarkable scope², as in the push to meet the country’s 2020 goal, wherein it aims to cut emissions by 25-30 million tonnes CO2 per year.³
Regulations shaping the market
The country’s National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE) is an important pillar in its energy-efficiency drive. The plan aims to highlight “innovative industrial processes, energy-efficient buildings and products, and long-term investments.”³ This has led to the development of new markets greatly driving “progress, innovation, and jobs”.4 The energy transition spearheaded by the government has gained massive support from the private sector, all members of which have played a notable role in the country’s remarkable energy-efficiency rate. Many HVACR companies are taking it upon themselves to emulate these values within their business strategies to reflect the country’s national agenda.
“Protecting the climate and conserving resources are some of the biggest issues of our day,” says Matthias Kasprowicz, Regional Managing Director, TROX, which avowedly specialises in serving customers that accept only “absolutely zero margin of error”. The customers belong to commercial, hospitality, museum, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, among others. As such, the company, along with many like it, has to ensure that it can effectively acclimatise to the regulations set forth by the country’s national policy whilst addressing the needs of its customer base. One way HVACR companies are doing this is by using technological advancements to help develop seamless integration and innovative multi-purpose solutions.
“The transition to the new energy era presents an enormous opportunity for modernising the industrial society,” says Janine Burgahn-Manarin, Marketing Manager, Heat Metering, at Landis+Gyr GmbH Nuremberg (CoC Heat). “It provides incentive for innovation and new technologies, particularly for linking traditional industry with the IT-based control of a complex power supply system.”
Burgahn-Manarin says the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) issued by the European Union has pushed all the member countries to reduce demand for heating and cooling.5 This has led to increased attention towards smart grids, smart metering (multi-energy – electricity, gas, water and heat), smart homes and buildings, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
We reduce the noise of our product range with different bionic fan designs by more than 50%. Our customers (OEM manufacturers) are very happy, because our technology benefits their end products
Adds Kasprowicz: “One of the major trends in the market right now in Germany is BIM (Building Information Modelling). With BIM, buildings can be planned, built and managed with the aid of software. All the relevant building data is digitally recorded, combined and networked. This means that all the project partners are able to visualise the project, assess the design before it is actually implemented and draw on all current and relevant data directly and continuously. Interface and coordination problems can be illustrated right from the early stages of the project and then resolved. This saves considerable amounts of time, money and energy, and significantly improves scheduling, cost calculations and how the building is operated.”
Although there are still challenges with this technology, most notably, Kasprowicz says, the lack of international standards, it has become an integral component of companies. TROX, he adds, has been making headway championing unified guidelines, using ISO 16757 as the standard for the description of product data. BIM has become mandatory in some countries to help streamline the execution of projects. A recent example, in the company’s own experience, is the installation of 3,200 active chilled beam in the Statoil office building in Fornebu, Norway, which was completed in just 20 months with the help of BIM.
In addition, there is increased demand for sophisticated metering in Germany, to better monitor consumption and effectively identify areas of improvement within energy systems. This includes advanced tools for metering, control and automation based on real-time information. Such transparency, Burgahn-Manarin says, empowers people to participate in demand response, and helps them save money.
Peter Fenkl, CEO of ZIEHL-ABEGG SE, has also noted the importance of meeting existing regulations and emerging trends, with regard to addressing indoor air quality. “The trends are very clear: To move more air with more efficiency whilst reducing the generated noise,” Fenkl says. “It is necessary to measure efficiency and noise in one session. For this measuring, we have the world’s biggest combined measuring test chamber at the headquarters of Ziehl-Abegg in Germany. It is called InVent Development and Technology Centre.6 Customers from all over the world send us their whole products for measuring at our facility. Our customers order our most efficient products. They want the peace of mind that the products in the area of efficiency exceed the EU Directive (Eco design Regulation) for energy saving. To comply with the increasing demand, we are starting to build a new factory for producing efficient fans with EC-technology in autumn 2016.”
Ensuring competitive advantage in a country that is lauded for its efficiency lies in the ability of manufacturing companies to create innovations that mirror emerging trends and demands. Thus, companies continue to move towards the creation of new products that can help address the unique needs of the market in Germany.
The overall comfort of end-users has become the key priority; of course, the idea of comfort is addressed in a variety of ways. TROX, for instance, has developed a plaster board slot diffuser with seamless design to minimise visual impact, as required by interior designers. And it has launched energy-efficient TJN jet nozzles for high air flow to be used in small areas, with improved acoustic properties. It features an actuator that is a self-adjusting variant with short response time, all of which “makes it impossible to hear or feel the large volume of air flow being pushed out,” in the words of Kasprowicz.
The individual, room-by-room control of the volume flow rate and water circuit based on actual demand, provides enormous economic and environmental advantages
As for Ziehl-Abegg, the company is actively battling noise pollution and increasing efficiency by optimising its fan blades and motor configuration. “We know that noise is a cause of stress and disease,” says Fenkl. “We reduce the noise of our product range with different bionic fan designs by more than 50%. Our customers (OEM manufacturers) are very happy, because our technology benefits their end products’ performance. The market awareness of solutions for fan generated noise is higher than 10 or 15 years ago.” In addition, Fenkl says, energy consumption is a priority and consideration in designing products, to ensure that the products minimise electric power consumption.
Integration is truly a conspicuous trend, as companies strive to make multidisciplinary products that can tackle multiple issues in heating, cooling and ventilation. TROX had recently launched pioneering products consolidating information from all areas of air distribution technology in the form of an energy-efficient holistic system “This integrated holistic technology, which is centered around the individual, roomby-room control of the volume flow rate and water circuit based on actual demand, provides enormous economic and environmental advantages,” says Kasprowicz. This approach, he adds, is also crucial to minimise consumption of raw materials and to keep the production of waste and the use of energy as low as possible.
That said, HVACR companies in Germany continue to face challenges in implementation. Kasprowicz says that although large-scale projects have readily adopted these technologies, residential and private housing sectors view the latest platforms with apprehension owing to the cost they will entail. “The challenges also grow because of this, as low quality material is often preferred for value engineering and cost cutting,” he says. “People do not realise the impact bad air quality has on health. This is not only because of products with inferior quality but also because of the design of the system.”
Leaning on research and development
Such issues, however, do not dampen the mood of optimism in the country. Recent data released by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy shows a notable increase in German industrial orders, with contracts for goods “Made in Germany,” up 1.9 per cent on the month.7,8
The leading position that Germany enjoys in global exports can be attributed to the particular attention German companies pay to innovation through research and development.9 They typically follow a systematic approach towards meeting their goals, with investment in R&D, in terms of projects and facilities, being a notable feature. TROX, for example, has showcased its commitment to research for many years and says that it has 14 R&D centres worldwide. Additionally, it says it actively partners with universities and collaborates with clients to achieve more streamlined and environmentally friendly products. Kasprowicz elaborates: “An example of the latest development of our R&D department is the radically innovative Life Cycle Cost (LCC) tool. It calculates the economic efficiency of fine dust filters on the basis of the strict Eurovent energy-efficiency classification. With the aid of their individual usage data, customers have the option of selecting the filter that offers the highest level of economic efficiency compared to other filters in terms of investment, energy and maintenance costs. Energy costs offer the largest savings potential – up to 60% depending on the filter.”
In addition to R&D, German companies have ramped up on the attention to customer service and after-sales, with custom-tailored solutions paving the way to reinforce German brands in the international market. Ziehl Abegg, as one of the oldest family-owned German ventilation manufacturers with a history spanning more than a century, says it embodies the move to espouse the German value for efficiency worldwide. “This is part of our genetic code,” Fenkl says. “We promise German quality for all our products and, therefore, we label our products with ‘Made by Ziehl-Abegg’.”
With the aid of their individual usage data, customers have the option of selecting the filter that offers the highest level of economic efficiency compared to other filters
German roots in global hubs… forays into the Gulf
Broadly speaking, the GCC region is presenting itself as a lucrative market for German companies, with countries such as the UAE strongly echoing Germany’s increasing emphasis on sustainable energy solutions. Add to that the vibrant real estate and construction sectors as well as the massive infrastructure projects associated with such mega-events as the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and the region presents alluring opportunities.
German brands are augmenting their position in the Gulf market across various sectors, avowedly applying their systematic methodology to ensure the same standards across their global network as they address the unique needs of each country. Ziehl Abegg currently holds offices around the world to help facilitate the R&D process with the customers. It also inaugurated an office in Dubai just last Spring.
In a move to collaborate with the public sector in the Gulf, TROX Middle East has been carrying out a campaign, called XsmartAir with government and educational entities to raise awareness on the importance of indoor air quality. “The basis of the campaign is to get students to realise how important good indoor air quality is to life and how bad air can reduce the happiness index in terms of health, days taken off, medical bills, etc.,” Kasprowicz says. “As an example, more than 40% of the children in the UAE are estimated to suffer from allergic rhinitis, whilst one in five children in the UAE is asthmatic, according to an Al Ain University research and the DHA.”
The strategies and direction Kasprowicz has outlined are indicative of the mindset of German HVAC companies. They have identified opportunities in the Gulf market, and are willing to move in to offer solutions for a healthy and more energy-efficient future. Years ago, they set out on the pathway of better community health and energy efficiency in their own backyard. Today, they have the products and systems to make a difference in the GCC region – with telling effect.
- Germany Trade and Invest PR
- Patrick Graichen “Understanding the Energiewende.”
- Germany Trade and Invest PR
- Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2016 Press Factsheet