German Energy Consumption Declines by 5% in 2011, Mainly Due to Mild Weather

According to preliminary figures published by Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen (AGEB), a working group founded by energy related associations and research centers, German energy consumption will presumably decline by 5% to 13,411 petajoules (PJ) respectively 457.6 million tons of coal equivalent (SKE). The decline is mainly due to the mild weather.

Without the weather effects, energy consumption would only have declined by 1%. Other factors that contributed to the decrease were the high energy prices, the decline of nuclear power, the expansion of renewable energy sources and highly efficient power plants.

Oil consumption fell by 3% compared with last year to the lowest level since 1990. Gas consumption declined by a good 10% year-on-year. The improved economic situation did not offset the effects from the warmer weather.

Consumption of hard coal only decreased by 0.7%, benefiting from an increase in demand of 4% by the steel industry. Lignite consumption bucked the trend and increased by 4%, as demand by power plants, which account for 90% of the demand, rose. Besides sales in the performance products segment increased.

Nuclear power contributed almost 23% less to the energy consumption due to permanent shut down of eight nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident that lead to a change of the German energy policy this summer.

Renewable energy sources increased by 4.1%, with wind power (+22%) and photovoltaics (+67%) contributing the most. For the first time photovoltaics delivered more energy than hydro power. Biogas increased by 21%. Renewables now account for almost 11% of primary energy consumption.

The electricity import/export balance with the neighbouring states still shows a surplus of 5 TWh. Yet electricity imports grew considerably (due to the shut down of the nuclear power plants), while exports declined.

The 2010 and 2011 decisions to promote renewable energy to a greater degree and phase-out nuclear power influenced the energy consumption, but the weather and also had a major effect on the primary energy consumption AGEB points out. Oil remains the most important energy source, accounting for 33.8% of the energy consumption, followed by natural gas with a slightly reduced share of 20.6%. Hard coal increased its share to 12.6% and lignite contributed 11.7%. Nuclear power fell to 8.8%, while renewable energy sources delivered 10.8% Other energy sources and the electricity exchange with neighbouring countries contributed 1.7%.

As a result of the declining energy consumption, CO2 emissions also decreased by more than 3%. However, after adjustment for the weather effects, they would have risen by about 1%.

Source: AG Energiebilanzen

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