“Sometimes it's a bit like detective work”

Interview with Eric Maercker from Energy Management


Eric Maercker is working on reducing the TU's energy consumption and paving the way for a CO₂-neutral university. In an interview, the 39-year-old explains, among other things, how the TU is supplied with energy and what his most urgent tasks are at the moment.

TU Darmstadt: The Energy Management department has been around since 2010, what has changed since the energy crisis?

Eric Maercker: Heat and electricity used to be cheap and not a problem. Since climate change has become more and more obvious, the topic of energy saving and energy management has reached the center of society. Awareness and requirements have also increased at TU Darmstadt. The energy crisis has further accelerated the processes. The university's savings targets for the winter of 2022/23 were 15 percent for weather-related heat and five percent for electricity.

We actually used 23 percent less heat and around ten percent less electricity. Similar savings targets have been set for the current winter: 15 percent for heat, five percent for electricity plus two million euros in savings on energy costs. This is a mix of consumption-oriented and monetary targets. Overall, it can be said that energy management has gained in importance at the TU. This can also be seen in the size of the department. We currently have five colleagues, with another engineer joining us in March. Then there will be six specialists dealing with the topic.

What areas does energy management cover?

On the one hand, it is about ensuring a secure energy supply for the TU. However, the basics of active energy management also include knowing and analysing exactly where which energy is consumed in the university and, for example, investigating which plant technology is possibly oversized in operation and can be optimized for savings. The aim is also a detailed CO2 balance and monitoring. We maintain an interdisciplinary exchange for all of these tasks and also work together with research projects such as the “EnEff Campus Lichtwiese”.

We have established that 20 percent of electricity consumption is attributable to IT alone.