eco Alliance on the German Energy Efficiency Act Amendment Bill: German Federal Government Must Now Prioritise Implementability

The German Federal Cabinet approved the draft bill to amend the German Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) on 22 May 2024. The Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, founded under the umbrella of eco, is in favour of using the opportunity to implement measures for a more realistic implementation of the requirements and international comparability in addition to the formal adjustments to align the EnEfG with the reporting obligations of the European Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

There is a fundamental need for improvement in the EnEfG in the calculation of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), which currently does not take into account the capacity utilisation of data centres. Günter Eggers, Deputy Spokesperson for the Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures, says: “The current PUE requirements are almost impossible to achieve for data centre operators and especially for colocation operators. It is in the nature of colocation data centres that capacity utilisation is often not at the discretion of the operators, but depends on customer demand. In order to increase the practicality of the EnEfG, PUE targets should be linked to the actual capacity utilisation of the data centres. Achieving a PUE of 1.2 at optimum capacity utilisation with a corresponding load-dependent gradation of the PUE specifications would be one way of finally making the PUE specifications feasible.”

National and EU requirements must be harmonised

Furthermore, inconsistent thresholds at EU and national level are creating legal uncertainty for data centre operators. While the EU requires data centre operators with a power requirement for IT of at least 500 kW to comply with the specifications, the EnEfG states that data centres with a non-redundant nominal connected load of 300 kW must already comply with the legal obligations. “While the EU uses the power requirement for IT as a basis, the EnEfG is based on the nominal connection cable of the entire system. This means that significantly smaller DCs are already subject to the obligation in Germany. What is particularly problematic here, however, is that the key figures and specifications of the EU and Germany are not comparable. Even if lower threshold values are set in the EnEfG, the underlying key figures should be standardised in order to ensure comparability, coherence and ultimately competitiveness in the European Single Market,” says Eggers.

Greater attention must also be paid to the confidentiality of the data to be reported. In this context, the EED Delegated Act makes some clarifications regarding the public availability of reporting data. These should be implemented analogously, as should the exemptions enshrined in the Delegated Act to ensure consistency and legal certainty.

The German federal government’s requirements must be feasible

Finally, the normally unachievable Energy Reuse Factor (ERF) also poses a challenge for data centre operators: “The DC industry expressly supports the goal of using as much waste heat from data centres as possible to decarbonise the heat supply. Unfortunately, the legally prescribed minimum values of up to 20% are practically impossible to achieve if the data centres are to be used as a primary source for heating purposes. Here, too, a real-world correction of the law is urgently needed,” explains Eggers.

The Alliance Deputy Spokesperson emphasises: “The German federal government must now make the right adjustments to guarantee legal certainty and uniformity for data centre operators. We are currently fighting our way through a jungle of different documentation obligations, requirements and regulations, which is slowing us down in our actual digitalisation efforts. We know that digital technologies and solutions are needed to meet today’s challenges such as climate change. And these simply don’t exist without an ecosystem of digital infrastructures.”

eco Alliance on the German Energy Efficiency Act Amendment Bill: German Federal Government Must Now Prioritise Implementability