My first experience attending the ISH Frankfurt trade show in Germany was one of awe. “The World’s Leading Trade Fair for the Bathroom, Building Services, Energy, Air Conditioning and Renewable Energies” is no boast - the 2007 show (which was held March 6-10) had 2,392 exhibitors from 58 countries showcasing products and technologies in 10 buildings, occupying almost the entire Messe Frankfurt Exhibition Center (larger than any plumbing/heating industry trade show I have attended in North America). Of those exhibitors, 20 were from the United States (more about them in a later issue).
While the beautiful sinks, faucets, tubs, showers and yes, even toilets, of The Bathroom Experience attracted a large portion of visitors, so did the heating technology areas. And renewable energy, a focul point for this year’s show, was the primary interest for nearly 33,000 trade visitors (about 15 percent of attendees).
About 300 European exhibitors were on hand showing systems for using renewable energies, including solar thermal energy conversion, photovoltaic systems, geothermal systems, and biomass technology. The topic was discussed in many forums and press conferences, as well as the ISH Technology and Energy Forum - a structure identifying the different renewable energy technologies and explaining their applications.
Marrying Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy TechnologiesPublic interest in Europe is increasingly concentrating on energy efficiency and renewable energies. But, as in the United States, there is still much education needed for consumers to understand how energy-efficiency heating equipment and renewable energy sources work together.
I attended a panel discussion of leading German experts in the heating and energy industries who discussed the interaction of renewable energies and efficient technologies in the heating market of the future. The panel included Dr. Michael Peters, Messe Frankfurt board member; Andreas Lücke, managing director of the BDH (Federal Industrial Association Germany House, Energy and Environmental Technology); Klaus Jesse, president of the BDH and managing director of Vaillant Deutschland GmbH; Prof. Dr. Christian Beckervordersandforth, director of E.ON Ruhrgas AG; and Prof. Dr. Christian Küchen, managing director of the Institute for Economic Oil Heating e.V.
“We talk about light bulbs to the public, but that won’t save enough energy,” states Jesse. “Consumers don’t realize they can save the most through the energy-efficiency of their heating systems.”
Adds Küchen: “About 70 percent of [German] households do not know the weak points in their heating systems.”
To achieve these targets, the BDH notes that the current pace of technology adoption must be doubled and effective measures put into place that increase energy efficiency. Immediate measures that should be taken are:
- Doubling the percentage
of condensing boilers used with solar thermal energy for hot water and heating.
- Doubling the use of renewable sources of energy.
- Doubling the energy savings by modernization of building envelopes (thermal insulation).
Other measures include:
- Substitution of heating oil
with bio-heating oil. According
to the BDH, using liquid bio-fuels in existing heating systems could rapidly
increase the proportion of renewable energy used in the heating market. Currently,
there are a large number of research projects examining ways to introduce
liquid bio-fuel to the 6.4 million oil-fired heating installations in
- Feeding biogas into the
natural gas network.
Biogas is produced when organic material (vegetation, sludge, liquid manure,
cattle manure and bio/organic waste) decomposes in air-free conditions. It reduces
CO2 emissions, but must be dried, filtered and the sulphur removed
to be used for heating or generating electricity.
It is already being used in the gas-distribution networks in Switzerland, Austria and Sweden, and will begin in Germany this year. However, there are still technological problems on getting biogas processed to the same quality as natural gas, notes Beckervordersandforth.
- The rapid introduction of innovative energy technologies.
No Single SolutionPanelists pointed out that it’s important for everyone to understand that one technology or one source of renewable energy will not solve the energy problems we currently face. It’s important, too, to look at a building as a whole - examine the interaction between space-heating generation and distribution systems, hot water supply, ventilation and building insulation - to reduce energy consumption.
Renewable energy solutions can be combined for energy efficiency and still provide the comfort level desired by consumers:
- 1. Gas- and oil-fired condensing boilers can be combined with solar
2. Wood-pellet boilers and heat pumps supported by solar thermal systems.
3. Micro-combined heat and power plants can generate heat and electricity in buildings.
4. Photovoltaic systems can be combined with all systems.
5. Building ventilation equipment that incorporates heat recovery can be combined with other systems.
6. Under-floor radiant heating or wall heating increases the efficiency of heat pumps and supplemental solar thermal systems.
7. Buildings should be effectively insulated, as well as piping, to assist in energy savings.
On The Show FloorWhen walking the show floor, I saw a lot of solar energy panels, heat pumps/geothermal systems, radiant heating systems (electric and hydronic) and wood pellet systems. The Building and Energy Technology/Renewable Energies portion of the trade show encompassed three entire buildings - six floors - with one floor devoted to fireplaces of all kinds, shapes and sizes.
Stiebel Eltron, Viessmann, Buderus, Wilo, Viega, Grundfos, ITT, REHAU, Uponor, Baxi Group - all had large booths at the show, filled to capacity most of the time. I had a tour of the massive REHAU booth (complete with interpreter for the only English-speaking journalist) where new products for the European market included a solar energy system, wall and ceiling radiant cooling systems, a sound-insulating domestic wastewater system and a central vacuum cleaner system.
Other ISH observations:
Part of the reason some of the booths are so large is that they have reception
areas where they offer attendees food and beverages. It’s all about the
The next ISH Frankfurt will be March 10-14, 2009. I encourage you to go if you can - it’s an experience you’ll remember!