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Energy consumption in Germany has reduced

According to preliminary calculations from the Working Group on Energy Balances (AG Energiebilanzen), Berlin/Germany, energy consumption in Germany reached 12,815 PJ or 437.3 Mtce (Figure 1) in 2019. This is a decline of 2.3 % compared to the previous year.

Fig. 1. Development of primary energy consumption in Germany 2019 (estimated changes in %). // Bild 1. Entwicklung des Primärenergieverbrauchs 2019 in Deutschland (geschätzte Veränderungen in %). Source/Quelle: AGEB

AG Energiebilanzen claims that this reduction in consumption was due to additional improvements in energy efficiency, energy mix substitutions and a decline in energy consumption in industry that occurred as a result of the economy. Factors in favour of increased consumption included the somewhat cooler weather conditions as well as the increase in population. By and large, however, these factors were significantly weaker than those that led to a reduction in consumption. According to calculations by AG Energiebilanzen, energy consumption would have even decreased by more than 3 % when adjusted for the impact of the weather and changes in stock levels. As the consumption of coal in 2019 was in rapid decline and the use of renewable energies continued to increase, the AG Energiebilanzen assumes a noticeable decline in CO2 emissions (also adjusted for temperature effects and changes in stock levels) of around 7 % or an ample 50 Mt.

The consumption of mineral oil in 2019 amounted to a total of 1.7 % higher than in the previous year. A slight increase was recorded in the sale of diesel and petrol as well as aviation fuel. Light heating oil saw a significant increase in sales of around 17.4 %. Due to the economic situation, supplies of petroleum to the chemicals industry decreased by around 8 %.

Gas consumption in Germany rose by 3.6 %. Alongside the higher heating requirements in the cooler spring months, the increased use of natural gas in power stations also contributed to this development.

The consumption of coal decreased by 20.5 % in total and reached a historical low. The power and heat generation sector suffered declines of around a third as more electricity was generated from renewable energies and natural gas. The steel industry reduced its use by just short of 4 %. For the first time again in a long while, the steel industry has become the most important sales sector for this energy source.

In 2019, the consumption of lignite fell by 20.7 %. The supplies to the lignite-fired power stations also fell considerably due to the safety preparedness of other power plant blocks, the reduced handling in the Hambach surface mine, a higher number of power plant upgrades compared to the previous year, as well as the increase in electricity generation from renewable energies. As a result, the consumption of lignite has now decreased for the seventh year in a row.

Compared with the previous year, nuclear energy saw a slight decrease in power production of around 1 %. Another nuclear power plant (Philippsburg) is planned to be decommissioned by the end of the year.

Renewable energies’ contribution to overall energy consumption over the past year rose by 4 %. Wind power increased its contribution by 15 %. For hydropower there was an increase of 4 %. Solar energy only increased slightly by 1 %. Biomass, which accounts for more than 50 % of total volume in the area of renewable energies, recorded an increase of 2 %.

Germany’s negative electricity exchange balance with its neighbouring countries in 2019 amounted to slightly lower than in previous years, according to initial figures: The amount of electricity flowing into Germany from other countries increased, while electricity flows from Germany to its neighbours significantly decreased by contrast. Reasons for this development included shifts in the European electricity generation structure as a result of increased CO2 prices and lower gas prices.

The proportions of the various energy sources in the national energy mix were further shifted in 2019 in comparison to the previous year. By and large, fossil energy sources experienced a decline, meaning that the energy supply in Germany was able to further reduce its carbon intensity. However, it continues to be distinguished by a broad mix of energy. Oil and gas accounted for around 60 % of inland energy consumption, while coal and lignite combined covered around 18 % of consumption. The share of renewable energy increased to almost 15 %.