Home » Archive News In Brief » News in Brief 2021 » News in Brief 05_2021 » Pandemic and weather lead to changes in energy consumption and energy mix

Pandemic and weather lead to changes in energy consumption and energy mix

Energy consumption in Germany was significantly above the comparable value for the previous year in the first six months of this year. According to preliminary calculations from the Working Group on Energy Balances (AG Energiebilanzen), Berlin/Germany, consumption in the first six months rose by 4.3 % to 6,191 PJ or 211.2 Mtce (Figure 1). There had still been a slight decrease in consumption after three months, according to the AG Energiebilanzen.

Fig. 1. Development of primary energy consumption in the first half of 2021 in Germa-ny – changes in percent. Source: AGEB

The AG Energiebilanzen attributes the increase in consumption primarily to the easing of restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resumption of economic activities. There was less wind energy available compared to the previous year, which caused the electricity generation mix to shift towards conventional energy sources. However, according to the AG Energiebilanzen, in spite of the increase compared to the previous year, the temperature-adjusted consumption values are still more than 7 % below the 2019 figures. The noticeably cooler weather compared to the same period the previous year also caused an increase in the consumption of heating energies. Without the influence of weather, energy consumption would have increased by just 2 % compared to the previous year.

The consumption of mineral oil decreased by 12.1 % in the first half of the current year compared to the general consumption trend. As a result of limited air travel, sales of aviation fuel fell by almost 20 %. Sales of petrol were down by 2.6 % and diesel by 7.0 %. Heating oil sales virtually halved in the first half of the year, as consumers decided not to top up their supplies yet due to the high prices. The share of mineral oil in overall energy consumption in this reporting period fell below the 30 % mark for the first time.

Natural gas consumption, on the other hand, rose by almost 16 %. This development was mainly due to the much cooler and, in the first three months of the year, less windy weather compared to the previous year, which meant that more natural gas was used to generate heat and electricity. The economic recovery also resulted in an increase in the consumption of natural gas.

Consumption of coal rose by just under 23 % in the first half of 2021. With regard to the use of coal for electricity and heat generation, there was an increase of -approximately 31 % as a consequence of the cool weather and lack of wind compared to the previous year. The use of coke and coal in the steel industry also increased significantly by almost 18 %.

In the first six months of the current year, the consumption of lignite increased by around a third. This increase corresponds largely to the development in supplies to power stations for general public supply. The growth is mainly due to the fact that the high level of energy supplied from wind turbines in the previous year due to the weather conditions was much lower this year. Compared with the first half of 2019, the consumption of lignite in the current year is down 12 % and is therefore in line with the multi-year trend.

Nuclear energy recorded an increase in electricity production in the first half at 7.0 %.

The contribution made by renewable energies to primary energy consumption fell by 1 % overall in the first half of the year, so renewable energies did not contribute to the increase in overall consumption, resulting in a decrease in their share of overall energy consumption (energy mix) to 16.8 % (previous year: 17.7 %). While hydropower plants supplied 5 % more power, consumption of wind energy fell by 20 % compared to the windy previous year. Solar energy consumption remained stable despite the construction of new plants. There was a 6 % increase in the use of biomass for temperature-related reasons.

In the first half of 2021, more energy was supplied abroad than was imported into Germany. Overall, the positive electricity exchange balance declined.

The changes in the contributions of individual energy sources as a result of the pandemic and the weather caused shifts in the energy mix. Firstly, with a share of 30.6 %, natural gas took the lead, while mineral oil fell to second place with 28.6 %. Despite significant increases in consumption compared to the previous year, the share of coal in total consumption rose to just 8.2 % for coal and 8.4 % for lignite. Although renewable energy consumption declined, it still took third place in the national energy mix with a share of 16.8 %. According to calculations by the AG Energiebilanzen, replacing electricity generated by renewable sources with that from fossil energy sources led to an increase of 6.3 % in CO2 emissions in the first half of the year.

The AG Energiebilanzen notes that, due to the pandemic and its effects on economic activity and mobility, as well as unpredictable weather patterns, there may be significant shifts in consumption and the composition of energy sources over the rest of the year.
(AG Energiebilanzen)/Si.)