Heinz Pöhler explains in our interview why he is so fascinated about the subject of energy and how sustainable energy strategies in the industry and non-residential buildings have gained in importance. He also reflects on future strategies.
At first glance, starting with your apprenticeship and university studies, followed by your career, responsible for power supply at Siemens AG, as a guest lecture at the Ulm University of Applied Sciences and finally as Director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center 4IES, your professional career shows that energy topics have always fascinated you. What exactly?
Energy moves the world! Without energy, there wouldn’t be any development. From the discovery of fire through the invention of the steam engine to the use of photovoltaic in space, the innovative use of energy has a significant influence and impact on mankind.
Energy production and distribution already attracted my attention during my university studies, whether it be the complexity of a power plant, the secure supply of energy for industries and households or innovative renewable energy systems with storage technology. As long as I can think of, dealing with energy has strongly been tied to technical challenges, where at the same time economic and political aspects play a meaningful role. My utmost goal as an engineer is to use energy as efficiently and economically as possible. With the discussions about the exit from nuclear and fossil fuel power supply, economic and political aspects are gaining public interest - which makes the issue even more exciting.
One of the core fields of business of your Steinbeis Competence Center is developing sustainable energy strategies, especially for industrial and non-residential buildings. Which services do your customers require?
The personal needs of our customers is very varied. Some are still in an early stage, in which we make them aware of various possibilities of an efficient (and cost-saving) usage of energy. After taking stock and a thorough examination of heating, ventilation, air conditioning technology as well as building technology, energy supply and electric lighting, we analyze energy saving potentials. The next step is to create a sustainable, ecology-minded, economic, long-lasting, individual and demand-oriented concept for our customers, taking into consideration cost development of the individual energy sources and the available technology on the market. Furthermore, counseling in assistance measures are given.
Other customers are already a few steps ahead and require support with the implementation, e.g. with independent expert reports for financing the energy efficiency measures or with the application for governmental benefits.
Our customers primarily focus on production processes. Energy consumption plays a minor role. During consultation, we sensitize our customers for energy saving measures, which then gain on significance. Therefore, they need a helping “right hand” providing advise for placing independent manufacture orders and to ensure the desired quality during the implementation phase.
Due to changes in the European Energy Efficiency Directive (Energiedienstleistungsgesetz) and the specifications for energy tax refunds (SpaEfV), the demand for support with audits according to DIN-EN 16247 and ISO 50.001 has strongly increased in Germany.
In your opinion, how could possible future strategies for developing further sustainable energy concepts for non-residential buildings look like?
First of all, it would be wise to make use of all energy saving potentials to reduce energy consumption in general. Energy, which is not required, doesn’t have to be produced or bought in the first place. Depending on the area of application or production processes, there are many options on how to save energy. Process-related heat and refrigeration requirements should be coordinated. These can be optimized by using waste heat energy, heat pumps, renewable energy sources and/or customer power generation in combination with energy storage.
Monitoring and load management systems play an important role in optimizing energy flow and managing energy more efficiently. “You can only manage what you measure!”
Looking beyond the own company’s boundaries might also be of advantage; maybe you neighbor has an excess heat supply which could be used or vice-versa.
Sustainable Economy – is that possible? Which role would resource efficiency play?
Sustainability is the balance between economy/profitability on the one side and ecology/environmental safety on the other side.
Sustainable energy systems are always demand-oriented. Energy is just one of many available resources. Personnel, raw material, natural resources, knowledge, for example, are also very important resources, that should be used carefully. As history has proven, a system that is only oriented towards profit maximization or social compatibility will eventually fail, if we do not treat humans, natural resources and energy in a sustainable and respectful manner.
Heinz Pohler is the director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center, 4IES. The Steinbeis Enterprise offers its customers energy consulting on industrial and non-residential buildings, the development of sustainable energy concepts, innovative energy systems based on photovoltaic technology, and resource efficiency consulting.