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German Energy Consumption Drops 4.8% in 2011, With Renewables Providing 20% of Electricity

By Stephen Lacey  

"German Energy Consumption Drops 4.8% in 2011, With Renewables Providing 20% of Electricity"

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[Note: the headline and stats were tweaked after publishing to more accurately reflect the distinction between electricity and overall energy. I originally wrote that renewables made up 20% of all energy, not electricity.]

According to new figures released from Germany’s energy working group, AGEB, energy consumption in the country dropped 4.8% in 2011 from 2010.

German consumption of oil fell 3%, gas by 10.2%, lignite coal by 0.7% (although hard coal rose 3.7%), and nuclear by 22.9%. At the same time, use of renewable energy climbed by 4.1% and represented about 20% of the country’s electricity and 10.8% of total energy in 2011.

An increase in residential and industrial efficiency combined with milder temperatures in 2011 provided the conditions for the decrease in consumption.

So is that increase in renewable energy and efficiency killing the German economy? Analysts expect German GDP growth to be around 3% in 2011, about the same projected for the U.S.

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16 Responses to German Energy Consumption Drops 4.8% in 2011, With Renewables Providing 20% of Electricity

  1. fj says:

    Kind of interesting the german passivehaus method of building and it’s reported that there are something like 12,000 of these buildings in europe with greater than 90% efficiency.

    Social change can happen quickly once we get our minds around what must be done.

  2. Dominic Brown says:

    Small correction. You said Germany’s coal consumption dropped by 0.7%. I think that column in the chart refers only to anthracite. The column next to it, marked ‘braunkohle’ presumably refers to lignite, a lower grade of coal that creates more pollution. Lignite use apparently went up by 3.7%.

    The overall use of coal may have risen or fallen. We can’t tell without knowing the proportion of hard coal and lignite in use. But I don’t think we can say with confidence that the country’s coal consumption dropped. The chart could be made more informative by scaling the width of the columns to the amount of energy generated by each source.

    (note: I do not speak German)

    • Sascha M. says:

      Clicking through to the Reuters source, you can see that overall coal use has remained steady, while lignite, mainly used for electricity generation, has increased. Hard coal in Germany is also used in the steel industry and to a much larger degree than lignite in district heating networks.
      So I guess it’s safe to say that while overall coal use has remained steady, lignite has gained a bigger share in electricity generation. This is hopefully only a temporary trend…

  3. Stephen Lacey says:

    Dominic — You are correct. I just went and looked. I’ve changed it accordingly.

  4. Ole Sumfleth says:

    Almost correct.

    Steinkohle = lit. stone coal = bituminous coal or black/hard coal.
    Braunkohle = lit. brown coal = lignite.

    Hard coal went down from 57.9 to 57.5 megatonnes.
    Lignite went up from 51.6 to 53.5 megatonnes.

    Renewables are now at 49.4 megatonnes (coal-eq.)

    (I am German)

  5. Ole Sumfleth says:

    Oh, beat me to it. Never mind then.

  6. MarkfromLexington says:

    My reading of the table you referenced seems to indicate that renewables contributed 10.8% of the total energy consumption.

    Natural gas contributed about 20.6% of Germany’s total energy consumption.

    • Mark Shapiro says:

      Right. Renewables provided 10.8% of Germany’s total energy, per the Reuters table. Renewables probably provided 20% of Germany’s electricity.

      People confuse the two all the time. We should try to keep them straight here.

  7. Heinrich says:

    On important thing is that there are moderate subsidies for renewables, another that there are strong incentives for energetically efficient construction. Paying 2.4% or 4.4% on a >100,000.00 EUR bank loan is a huge difference, if you are building a home for your family!

  8. MarkfromLexington says:

    According to the BDEW association, renewable energy provided 19.9% of the electricity produced in Germany in 2011.

    The table referenced in the post above shows renewables providing 10.8% of Germany’s total energy needs.

    http://bdew.de/internet.nsf/id/DE_20111216-PI-Die-Verantwortung-waechst?open&ccm=900010020010

    • Mark Shapiro says:

      20% of electricity and 10% of total energy from renewables is pretty good.

      The rapid growth of those percentages is even better.

  9. Paul Revere says:

    “German consumption of oil fell 3%, gas by 10.2%, lignite coal by 0.7% (although hard coal rose 3.7%), and nuclear by 22.9%. At the same time, use of renewable energy climbed by 4.1% and represented about 20% of the country’s energy consumption in 2011.”

    More hard coal, less nuclear. I wonder if the German carbon footprint changed at all.

  10. jyyh says:

    Could you please dig up the historical energy consumption in Germany and tell us when was the year when the energy consumption was at 20% of the current one? Is it the 1950s level or still earlier?

    • Anne van der Bom says:

      That’s a bit hard to do since there were two Germanies between 1945 and 1990.

      The best I can suggest to you is the BP statistical review of world energy which goes back to 1965.

  11. jyyh says:

    For US the 20% level of current consumption seems to have been somewhere in the 1920s to 1940s, the coal use was much wider pre-war than I thought: http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/938

    Anyway they weren’t very efficient back then. And the population is very different currently. Maybe this should be checked with per capita-values.

  12. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Very glad to know. Germany has always been in the forefront in Harnessing Renewables.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert
    E-mail:anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com