Many medium-sized companies are looking for ways to decrease their operating costs. Government subsidies, while highly desirable, are not always available, and when they are, many companies know nothing about them. Businesses generally don’t have the time or expertise to explore all the options.
However, there are government subsidies that can help companies save costs. We are talking about the subsidized consultancy program "Energy consultancy for small and medium-sized enterprises."
Offered by the Federal Office for Export Control (BAFA), it subsidizes 80% of consultancy costs. That means BAFA will pay EUR 6,000 for the maximum consulting costs of EUR 7,500, leaving the company with a maximum cost of EUR 1,500 – an investment that often pays for itself after a very short time.
Consumption points are switched on and off in an intelligent way to maximize efficiency. For example, the electric car should work with the existing energy infrastructure in the house, for example by installing a wall box. In conjunction with other consumption points, the electric car is to be charged with the highest possible current.
But who is eligible for these consulting services? How do companies apply for them? How does the service work, and what results can be expected?
The consultancy program is targeted for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), defined as independent companies with fewer than 250 employees and less than EUR 50 million in sales per year. That means very many or most companies in Germany are eligible for this support. The grant must be applied for at BAFA before the start of the consultation. The application process is very simple, only a few operational key figures need to be entered. An energy consultant accredited by BAFA may be able to assist with the application.
Once the application has been approved, a consultancy contract must be concluded with an approved consultant and the consultancy can then begin.
The energy consultant comes to your facilities to discuss the details of the consultation. At this meeting, it is very helpful if the consulting company can present key figures such as current energy invoices. Then the scope of the advice and the focal points will be specified so that advice can be optimally tailored to the needs of the customer.
In the next step, the consultant will visit the plant to get an overview of the energy-relevant machines and equipment (buildings, lighting, etc.). In particular, it should be established at this stage where and how detailed data should be collected. Metering equipment is an absolute must here, because hardly any company has reliable knowledge of where energy is being consumed. As a rule, there will only be monthly statements or annual statements, which do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the composition of consumption. Depending on the respective situation, the consultant may therefore be on site several times at the consulting company to install metering equipment, read out data and document it. The measuring instruments used can be permanently installed as part of the energy consulting service.
Installation must be carried out by a specialist company. There are now very powerful measuring devices on the market, such as the TQ-Automation Energy Manager with sensor bars, which can be permanently installed in the control cabinet and which even allow individual circuits to be recorded, evaluated and documented. This is an essential prerequisite for transparency of consumption and for effective energy management.
The data collected and the measurement data recorded via the Energy Manager are then analysed and evaluated by the energy consultant with the help of software like Efficio, and potential savings are calculated. Estimated investment costs are compared with the projected savings, so the company has an overview of where there is potential for improvement.
The result of the consultation is documented in a comprehensive report and explained to the customer in a personal conversation at the end of the consultation. Many companies are amazed at the high returns that are possible with what are often quite simple measures.
All this makes the energy consulting program for medium-sized businesses an ideal basis for recording and analysing a company’s energy data and saving costs. This takes pressure off businesses and provides them with valuable information about where and how they can reduce costs and improve their competitive advantage – especially since the government subsidy is around 80%.
The figures just published by BAFA show that only 2061 such consultations were held in Germany in 2017, 289 of them in Bavaria – a clear indication that the existence of this consultancy program is apparently unknown to many companies. In addition to the subsidy for the advisory programme, BAFA and KfW have a number of other promotional programs that help SMEs increase their energy efficiency and reduce costs.
More detailed information on this very attractive funding program and other advisory programs can be found, for example, at www.bafa.de. There you will find everything you need to know about attractive consulting programs under the keyword "Energy".