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Improvements in energy efficiency

In Germany macroeconomic energy efficiency has improved significantly. In 2018 the development – adjusted for temperature and inventory effects – registered an increase of 3.1 % compared with the previous year. In order to produce goods and services worth 1,000 €, in Germany only 4.5 GJ of primary energy is used, according to provisional estimates by the Working Group on Energy Balances (AG Energiebilanzen), Berlin and Bergheim. This is an exemplary value and corresponds to an improvement of over 40 % compared with 1990.

Fig. 1. Development of adjusted macroeconomic energy efficiency in Germany from 1990 to 2018 (in GJ per 1,000 € economic output). // Bild 1. Entwicklung der bereinigten gesamtwirtschaftlichen Energieeffizienz in Deutschland 1990 bis 2018 (in GJ pro 1.000 € Wirtschaftsleistung). Source/Quelle: AGEB

In 2018 efficiency gains in electricity generation, as well as in other sectors of energy conversion, had a significant influence on the development of macro-economic energy efficiency. In the area of electricity generation modern power plants with high efficiency, the departure from nuclear energy and the expansion of renewable energies, ensure significant energy improvements. Energy use per generated kilowatt hour of electricity fell from 7.30 MJ to 7.18 MJ, whereby the efficiency in electricity generation improved by 1.6 %. The average efficiency of all electricity generation plants exceeded the 50 % mark for the first time in 2018. For power consumption the efficiency was up 2 % compared with the previous year. The reasons are a falling number of electricity-intensive economic sectors, technical improvements to machines and systems, as well as the stock of durable consumer goods. The per capita electricity consumption fell by 0.8 % to 7,174 kWh compared with the previous year.

The energy efficiency of private households deteriorated by 1.6 % in 2018 taking into effect the weather conditions. Based on the living space, the fuel usage for the heat supply increased 1.8 % and electricity consumption rose by 0.8 %. In the industry/trade/services sector energy efficiency improved in 2018 by 7.5 %, whereby the mild weather had a significant impact here. In industry energy efficiency improved by 0.6 % compared with 2017.

Since 1990 macroeconomic energy efficiency in Germany has improved by over 40 %. On average over the last 28 years the efficiency gain is now 1.9 %/a. Since 1990 energy use has fallen by 9.8 MJ/kWh to approximately 7.2 MJ/kWh in electricity generation. Since 1990 the average efficiency of all electricity production plants has increased from 36.6 % to currently more than 50 %. Since 1991 energy efficiency in private households has improved by just under 29 % (temperature adjusted). However, the long-term average of a good 1 %/a is significantly behind the efficiency gains of other consumption sectors and indicates there is still efficiency potential in this sector. Since 1991 the industry/trade/services sector improved its energy efficiency by almost 2.5 %/a on average. In the entire sector energy use has dropped by almost half since 1991 for every 1,000 € value added. In the long-term average the industry records efficiency gains of just under 1.3 %/a compared to the initial value in 1991. The transport sector made efficiency improvements of roughly 1.5 %/a in the long-term average.

For the adjusted cross-sector final energy consumption – based on the real gross domestic product – there is an improvement of energy intensity of 1.9 % for 2018. From 1990 to 2018 an improvement of on average 1.6 %/a can be observed for this indicator. This development is well below the objective of the federal government, which aims at an improvement of energy productivity of 2.1 %/a for the period up to 2050.

The AG Energiebilanzen regularly calculates current macroeconomic and sector-based statistics on the energy efficiency trend in Germany. The systematic monitoring of energy efficiency is an important contribution to the monitoring of the energy revolution and is done on the basis of methods which have been developed on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. (AGEB/Si.)