„Energy remains on the agenda"
University Provost Dr Nicole Kaiser in an interview about the current energy-saving measures at the University of Bayreuth
The discussions about energy-saving measures on campus continue. Since July 2022, an Energy Task Force has been installed at the University of Bayreuth to prepare the university for different energy supply situations and has developed measures for different scenarios. These are now being felt in everyday life. We asked the Chancellor how things will continue and why which measures and preparations have been taken at the University of Bayreuth.
UBTaktuell: The Minister of Science recently promised to cover the universities' additional energy costs for 2023. Are you relieved?
Dr. Nicole Kaiser: He has said that the Free State will pay the energy costs. But we don't know yet how it will look in the budget. We hope for additional financial resources because of these political statements. That was an important signal. But of course we are still working on the energy issue.
How often does the task force meet?
There is no fixed meeting pattern of the TaskForce, but usually the meeting in the big round, i.e. the whole TaskForce, took place every four to six weeks. In between these meetings, there were always meetings of smaller subgroups and working groups on various individual topics.
Who sits on the task force?
In addition to representatives from the various faculties of the University of Bayreuth, the TaskForce Energy also includes representatives of the students and the staff council. The Central Technology Department of the University of Bayreuth is also involved, of course, but also the IT Service Centre and the Centre for Energy Technology. The principle was to get all the stakeholders around the table from the beginning and to bring the different perspectives together with professional expertise in such a way that a joint plan for different energy scenarios at the University of Bayreuth is created.
What measures are still in the pipeline and under what conditions?
We have now completed 2022 and had to use more of our own funds, which came at the expense of other measures. Nevertheless, we are grateful that the Ministry also ultimately assumed a share of the additional costs. All of the energy-saving measures that have been implemented or are currently being implemented at the University of Bayreuth are directly related to the legal requirements for energy saving, both at the state level (https://www.bayern.de/bericht-aus-der-kabinettssitzung-vom-02-august-2022/) and at the federal level (https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/klimaschutz/energiesparmassnahmen-2078224). This is not just an individual idea or effort of the University of Bayreuth to save energy, but to fulfil and implement the legal requirements and obligations, which stipulate savings of 15%. At the same time, however, I see it as a social obligation, especially as a university institution, to make our contribution in these times. The principle in all considerations has always been: we proceed prudently, plan precautionarily and for various eventualities, and involve all those affected. Overall, we hope to be well positioned for the coming months with an emergency plan for energy at the University of Bayreuth that has been developed in the TaskForce, because both announced changes in the energy supply and sudden events, such as a spontaneous power blackout, have been considered in the best possible way. However, all those involved hope that the work of the last weeks and months will not be needed and that the emergency plan can hibernate in a quiet corner.
You speak of an "emergency plan": Under what conditions would this take effect and what does it provide for what eventuality?
The emergency plan developed with our responsible internal departments as well as the TaskForce Energy comprises a step-by-step energy plan, which already contains the previous and current measures for saving energy and also includes further scenarios in preparation for a possible tightening of the energy supply situation at the University of Bayreuth. In principle, however, no further tightening of energy-saving measures is planned at the University of Bayreuth for the time being. According to the Energy Emergency Plan, any further tightening would only take place due to an external requirement, by the energy supplier or official order, or alternatively by the onset of a spontaneous, unannounced change in the energy supply, such as a blackout. The basic premise of all considerations is always to maintain university operations - in presence - as far as possible. We very much hope that the scenarios considered in the emergency plan will never occur, but we still want to be prepared. In our opinion, this includes providing all members of the campus community with accurate information, including what rules of conduct apply in a worst-case scenario. Only if there is clarity in the event of an emergency (which we hope will not happen) and everyone involved knows what they have to do, can we keep the disruptions to a minimum.
Did the task force prioritise the areas that would be affected first, strongly, weakly or not by energy-saving measures? According to what criteria was this done?
The critical infrastructure at the individual departments, working groups and facilities was surveyed at all faculties. This can involve both individual devices and entire laboratory areas. As part of this survey, it was also clarified whether and to what extent the respective critical infrastructure is dependent on emergency power supply, for example, and whether remediable or irrecoverable damage could occur in the event of a shutdown. This assessment can best be made and evaluated by the respective heads of the chairs or facilities themselves. Overall, a list of critical infrastructure at the University of Bayreuth was then drawn up on the basis of the feedback, which would allow a step-by-step arrangement of shutdowns in the event of an emergency. However, there are no specific areas at the university, such as individual chairs or departments, that have been determined as prioritised; instead, they are classified on the basis of the respective reported energy supply requirements. In principle, no instructed shutdowns are planned at the University of Bayreuth. This would only take place in the event of an external order or a prolonged disruption in the energy supply. The requirement would be to always minimise damage and protect the most critical infrastructure in accordance with the critical infrastructure notifications.
What measures have already been decided?
There are a few, let me give you a few examples: Adjustment of room air conditioning in lecture halls, seminar rooms and laboratories, optimisation of lighting indoors as well as outdoors, reduction of the operating times of information boards and campus monitors, implementation of the legal requirement of a room temperature of 19°C in offices and teaching rooms and the requirements to switch off decentralised hot water generation (instantaneous water heater) and central hot water supply as far as possible (risk of legionella), Offering energy advice for the laboratory area, reducing the university's operating hours (including in the laboratory) to core hours, and reduced heating in foyers and circulation areas (even if these provide student workplaces).
What financial burden will result for the University of Bayreuth from the energy price increases in 2022? And are there already measurable financial effects of the measures taken so far?
According to current calculations, the additional costs for energy at the University of Bayreuth are more than 30%, which is a solid seven-digit amount. However, we will only know more precisely when the energy suppliers' invoices for November and December are received and available. As far as the measurable financial effects are concerned, we are not yet able to make a concrete statement, as the calculation of consumption and invoicing takes place with a certain time lag, especially in the rental areas. However, we see an initial positive trend in the figures already available, which makes us cautiously optimistic that we are on the right track.