According to estimates issued by the energy market research organization AGEB and the energy industry lobby organization BDEW, Germany’s energy consumption climbed in 2021 compared with the previous year, but the share of the renewable energy sources in the power production decreased. Energy consumption rose by 2.6% (12,193 petajoule) in comparison to the year 2020, when the economic activity was severely slowed by the coronavirus pandemic, as per AGEB. However, primary energy utilization in the country remained significantly under the pre-crisis levels in 2021, as pandemic impacts could still be felt and supply chain disruptions hampered economic recovery.
The cold weather at the start of the year also led to rising energy demand, accounting for the majority of the rise, as per AGEB. Price increases on energy markets and even in the ETS (European emissions trading system), on the other hand, “clearly restrained the growth-driven increase in primary energy consumption,” according to the researchers.
The rise in energy use and decline in renewable energy generation adds to the pressure on chancellor Olaf Scholz’s new cabinet to deliver on its commitment to jumpstart Germany’s energy transition. The Social Democrats’ (SPD) coalition with Green and the Free Democrats (FDP) seeks to lower Germany’s emissions by 65% by 2030 and achieve an electricity consumption share of 80% renewables in the same year. It also aspires to totally phase out coal-fired power generation by the close of the decade.
Despite its growing role in the power system, the coal industry is planning a phase-out.
Despite the government’s objectives, coal power usage is on the rise significantly, with both lignite and hard coal consumption increasing by around 18%, while natural gas use increased by only 4%. According to the coal industry group DEBRIV, statistical factors played a significant part in the year-on-year increase, with lignite use still being 5% lower than in the year 2019 and even 25% lower than in 2018. Despite the fact that lignite plants made a “remarkable contribution” to Germany’s supply security this year, as well as domestic supply with fossil fuel was not going to be impacted by cost increases like oil or gas, DEBRIV head Thorsten Diercks believes that the technology’s whole demise in Germany will continue in 2021.
Nuclear power increased by more than 7% “due to greater demand, poor output from renewables, and the evolution of energy and CO2 pricing,” according to the report. Nuclear power will be phased out altogether in Germany by the close of 2022. Renewables’ percentage of primary energy consumption declined from 16.5% to 16.1 percent this year, owing primarily to a 10% drop in the wind power generation due to unfavorable weather conditions.
The nation’s energy-linked CO2 emissions are estimated to be roughly 25 million tonnes (4 percent) more this year than in 2020, AGEB stated, due to increasing total consumption and relatively weak renewables generation. CO2 emissions from energy account for around 85% of Germany’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Even if all other emissions stayed constant, overall greenhouse gas emissions would be far lower than pre-pandemic levels. When compared to 1990 levels, the country’s emissions would have decreased by around 39%.