Energy Scenario Study for German Energy Concept Published

The government has published the study it commissioned to model nine scenarios for its upcoming Energy Concept. Key variables in the scenarios are upgrading costs and the number of additional years (0, 4, 12, 20, and 28) that the German nuclear power stations shall be allowed to operate.

In its coalition agreement last October, the government had announced to present a new Energy Concept with specific scenarios and guidelines for a clean, reliable and affordable energy supply within the next year. In preparation for this, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) instructed three research institutes to provide a scientific basis for its decision.

Prognos (Basel), EWI (Cologne) and GWS (Osnabrück) submitted their joint study last Friday, 27 August 2010. The federal government is planning to decide about the Energy Concept on 28 September 2010.

The nine scenarios consist of one reference scenario and 8 different prolongation scenarios. They are based on various assumptions, such as CCS being market-ready by 2025 or increased annual energy efficiency gains between 2.3 and 2.5% instead of the current 1.7 to 1.9%.

The reference scenario assumes a continuation of current trends and no changes to the present energy law regime, in particular no prolongation of the operating times of the German nuclear power plants. Energy efficiency increases are assumed to be moderate, without major technological progress. In this scenario, compared to 1990, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by by 34.6% by 2020 and by 62.2% by 2050. The government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020 and by at least 80% by 2050 would therefore be missed.

The 8 target scenarios consist of two sets of 4 scenarios each, with extensions of 4, 12, 20 and 28 years for the operation of nuclear power plants. The two sets differ regarding upgrading costs for the existing nuclear power plants. The first set from the authors of the study (the A scenarios) uses uniform upgrading costs of EUR 25 per kW per year of prolongation. The other set (the B scenarios) came from the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety ( BMU) and uses specific costs for each plant and scenario. In this set, upgrading costs are assumed to total EUR 6.2 billion (4 years), EUR 20.3 billion (12 years), EUR 36.2 billion (20 years), and EUR 49.8 billion (28 years) for the 17 German plants.

All target scenarios lead to the government meeting its greenhouse gas emission targets, reaching reductions of between 39.9% and 44.2% by 2020 and between 85.3% and 86.3% by 2050.

The study considers the extension of the operating times beneficial for the national economy and to have a restraining effect on electricity prices. Economic growth and employment would be higher.

For example, in the 12 year uniform upgrading cost scenario (called scenario IIA), wholesale prices for electricity shall be 33 EUR/MWh in 2020, 46 EUR/MWh in 2030, 55 EUR/MWh in 2040 and 21 EUR/MWh in 2050.  The figures from the reference scenario (i.e. no changes) are considerably higher: 44 EUR/MWh in 2020, 54 EUR/MWh in 2030, 68 EUR/MWh in 2040 and 63 EUR/MWh in 2050.

For households, there would still be a reduction, but the electricity price difference would be much smaller. Using the same 12 year scenario IIA, household electricity prices shall be 210 EUR/MWh in 2020, 220 EUR/MWh in 2030, 224 EUR/MWh in 2040 and 215 EUR/MWh in 2050.  The figures from the reference scenario (i.e. no changes) are: 217 EUR/MWh in 2020, 222 EUR/MWh in 2030, 225 EUR/MWh in 2040 and 218 EUR/MWh in 2050. Further details can be found in this overview.

Another finding of the study is that Germany will increasingly depend on electricity imports due to cheaper generation options in other countries. Depending on the scenario, imports in 2050 will amount to between 94 and 143 TWh. This would amount to 21% to 31% of electricity demand. In 2008, Germany was a net exporter, exporting 4% of electricity demand.

The study is densely written, and extracting the relevant figures from the study’s charts and tables for the political debate may take some time.

Source: Press Release BMWi/BMU, EWI/GWS/Prognos study

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1 Response to “Energy Scenario Study for German Energy Concept Published”

  • Does anybody know how long it took to compile this report, or when BMU launched the Energieszenarien project?
    It is 250 pages, a lot of work. Curious to know what amount of resource was poured into this. Pleas advise.

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