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Strong decrease in energy consumption/savings target for natural gas achieved

Fig. 1. Development of primary energy consumption in Germany 2000 to 2022 in PJ. // Bild 1. Entwicklung des Primärenergieverbrauchs in Deutschland 2000 bis 2022 in PJ. Source/Quelle: AG Energiebilanzen

Energy consumption in Germany reached a level of 11,769 PJ or 401.6 Mtce in 2022. This corresponds to a decrease of 5.4 % compared to the previous year. Energy consumption thus fell to its lowest level since reunification, writes Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen (AG Energie­bilanzen), Berlin/Germany, in its Annual Report 2022 (Figure 1). The development of energy consumption and the use of the various energy sources (Figure 2) in the reporting year were significantly influenced by the war in Ukraine. The halt in Russian gas imports, the rise in energy prices, measures to combat an impending energy crisis and gas shortages had a drastic impact on the supply and consumption of energy sources in Germany, the AG Energiebilanzen continued.

Fig. 2. Structure of primary energy consumption in Germany in 2022: Total 11,769 PJ or 401.6 Mtce. Shares in percent (previous year’s period in brackets). // Bild 2. Struktur des Primärenergieverbrauchs in Deutschland 2022: Gesamt 11.769 PJ oder 401,6 Mio. t SKE. Anteile in Prozent (Vorjahreszeitraum in Klammern). Source/Quelle: AG Energiebilanzen

The milder weather compared to 2021 also had a significant influence on the decline in primary energy consumption (PEC). Without the consumption-reducing temperature influence, energy consumption would have fallen by only 4 % compared to the previous year, according to calculations by AG Energiebilanzen. Apart from the months of September and December, it was consistently warmer in 2022 than in the previous year. It was also significantly warmer compared to the long-term average (1990 to 2021). Only in May and September were the outdoor temperatures below the long-term average. The mild temperatures contributed significantly to the fact that a critical escalation on the energy market could be avoided.

Factors increasing consumption in 2022 included economic development and population growth. The overall economic performance increased by 1.9 %. The economic slowdown was thus noticeably less than expected and there was an increase in consumption in the order of 135 PJ compared to the previous year. An increase in energy consumption of about 94 PJ resulted from the increase in population by about one million people.

According to the assessment of the AG Energiebilanzen, the price development on the energy markets last year caused a noticeable reduction in consumption. The import prices for crude oil, natural gas and hard coal rose by an annual average of 58 to 179 %. Consumer prices rose by 87 % for heating oil, 65 % for natural gas and more than 20 % for electricity.

The energy and climate policy framework conditions again had a not inconsiderable influence on the development of consumption for the individual energy sources in 2022. At the national level, further steps towards a complete phase-out of nuclear energy, the beginning of the coal phase-out and the continued promotion of renewable energies led to changes in the energy mix. At the European level, the emission ceilings of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) as well as the overarching climate protection goals have an impact on the level and composition of energy consumption in Germany.

According to calculations by AG Energiebilanzen, overall economic energy productivity improved by around 7.7 % in 2022. This value is significantly above the level of the long-term average for the period from 1990 to 2022 of around 2.3  %/a. According to AG Energiebilanzen, the drastic increase in energy prices in particular has led to additional energy savings and substitutions for many consumers. However, growth losses in the commercial economy, especially in energy-intensive sectors, as well as statistical effects in the primary energy assessment of renewable energies also had an influence on the development of energy efficiency.

On the basis of preliminary energy balance data, the AG Energiebilanzen assumes that energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by around 1.3 % last year. This would correspond to a decrease of around 8.2 Mt.

In the area of electricity and heat generation, CO2 emissions probably increased by around 4.8 % or 9 Mt. Decreases in electricity generation from nuclear power and natural gas were offset by increased use of hard coal and lignite, which led to an increase in CO2 intensity in this sector. The increased provision of electricity from renewable energy sources could not offset this effect. In the transport sector, increased fuel consumption also caused an increase in CO2 emissions. Here, the increase was 7.7 % or more than 11 Mt. In the manufacturing industry, however, emissions were reduced by about 10Mt. CO2 emissions from private households fell by around 4.5 Mt, mainly due to the temperature effect and consumers’ efforts to save. This corresponds to a reduction of 5.3 % compared to the previous year.

The consumption of mineral oil increased by a total of 2.9 % to 4,156 PJ (141.8 Mtce) in 2022. The share of mineral oil in total PEC increased to 35.3 % (previous year 32.5 %). The consumption of petrol increased by 3.8 %, diesel fuel only showed a slight increase of 0.5 %. Sales of light heating oil increased by more than 9 %, as many consumers stocked up despite the price development. Sales of aviation fuel again rose strongly by almost 44 %. Deliveries of raw petrol to the chemical industry, on the other hand, decreased by around 4 %.

Natural gas consumption decreased by 15.7 % to 2,783 PJ (95.0 Mtce) in 2022. The share of natural gas in total PEC fell to 23.6 % (previous year: 26.6 %). Thus, the European goal of reducing natural gas consumption by 15 % to compensate for the import ban on Russian natural gas was fully met by Germany. Demand for natural gas from industry fell by 17.3 %. Consumption by private households fell by 13.5 %. The power and heating plants reduced their use of natural gas by 16.7 %, and there was a drop of 17.3 % in the provision of heat.

To secure the natural gas supply, the underground storage facilities connected to the German natural gas grid were filled as a matter of priority after the lowest filling level of just under 25 % was reached in mid-March 2022. Due to low temperatures, the withdrawal phase began in the first half of December. At the end of the year, the filling level of the natural gas storage facilities in Germany was still just over 90 %. On 21st December 2022, natural gas was fed into the domestic gas grid for the first time via the LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven.

The consumption of hard coal increased by 4 % in 2022 and reached a level of 1,156 PJ (39.4 Mtce). The use of hard coal in power plants, which accounts for about half of total consumption, increased by more than 16 %. The use of hard coal in the iron and steel industry, on the other hand, declined slightly by 2.2 %. The share of hard coal in total PEC increased from 8.9 % to 9.8 %. The increased use of hard coal in electricity generation helped to compensate for the reduced use of natural gas in power plants and benefited from the further decline in nuclear energy.

The consumption of lignite increased by 3.5 % to 1,174 PJ (40.1 Mtce). Compared to the average of the past five years, however, lignite continued to follow the downward trend. Almost 90 % of domestic lignite production went to general supply power plants. Electricity generation from lignite rose from 110 to 116 TWh, covering about one fifth of domestic electricity demand. Lignite had a share of 10.0 % of total PEC in 2022 (previous year: 9.1 %).

Nuclear energy almost halved its electricity production to 34.7 bn kWh in the reporting period. The contribution of nuclear energy to PEC fell to 379 PJ (12.9 Mtce). This development was caused by the decommissioning of the power plant units Grohnde, Brokdorf and Gundremmingen with a combined capacity of 4,058 MW. The installed capacity of nuclear power plants in Germany thus decreased to 4,055 MW. Amendments to the Atomic Energy Act opened up the possibility of operating the remaining three power plant units (Neckarwestheim 2, Isar 2 and Emsland) for three and a half months longer than originally planned. In 2022, nuclear energy had a share of 3.2 % (previous year 6.1 %) of total energy consumption.

Renewables increased their contribution to PEC in 2022 by 3.8 % to 2,023 PJ (69.0 Mtce). The share of renewables in total PEC reached 17.2 % in 2022 (previous year 15.7 %). The favourable weather conditions for wind power generation and the historic peak in solar irradiation had a significant influence on this development. Compared to the low wind year 2021, wind power generation increased by 8.5 % in 2022. Wind power thus remained the most important energy source in the German electricity mix in 2022. Electricity generation from photovoltaic plants covered more than 11 % of gross electricity consumption in Germany for the first time in 2022. In contrast, electricity generation from biomass remained almost constant in 2022. Due to the widespread drought, electricity generation from hydropower decreased by 11 %.

There were noticeable shifts in the energy mix for 2022. Mineral oil remained the most important energy source with a share of 35.3 % (previous year 32.5 %), followed by natural gas with 23.6 % (previous year 26.6 %). Hard coal accounted for a share of 9.8 % (previous year 8.9 %). Lignite increased its share to 10.0 % (previous year 9.1 %). The contribution of nuclear energy was 3.2 % (previous year 6.1 %). Renewable energies expanded their share of total energy consumption to 17.2 % (previous year 15.7 %).

Domestic energy production (Figure 3) recorded an increase of about 2.2 % to 3,647 PJ (124.4 Mtce) in 2022.

Fig. 3. Structure of domestic energy production 2022: Total: 3,647 PJ/124.4 Mtce. Shares in percent (previous year in brackets). // Bild 3. Struktur der heimischen Energiegewinnung 2022: Gesamt: 3.647 PJ/124,4 Mio. t SKE. Anteile in Prozent (­Vorjahr in Klammern). Source/Quelle: AG Energiebilanzen

The extraction of natural gas and crude oil declined again. In contrast, renewables, which are included in the domestic energy sources, recorded an increase of 3.8 %. Lignite also increased by a similar amount. Hard coal has no longer been produced in Germany since the end of 2018. Overall, energy production from domestic resources was able to cover 31 % of total consumption. In the previous year, the share was 28.7 %. The most important domestic energy source is now renewables with a share of 55.6 % (previous year 54.7 %). It is followed by lignite with 32.7 % (previous year 32.3 %).

The detailed report of the AG Ener­gie­bilanzen on the development of PEC in 2022 is available for download on the website of the AG Energiebilanzen (www.ag-energiebilanzen.de).
(AG Energiebilanzen/Si.)