02 Nov 2023, 13:39
Carolina Kyllmann

German energy use forecast to be lowest since reunification in 2023 as economic output shrinks

Clean Energy Wire

Primary energy consumption is likely to hit a record low this year as Germany’s economy remains weak, according to a forecast by energy data service AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB). Energy consumption in the country is predicted to reach 10.784 petajoules (PJ) by the end of the year. This represents an eight percent drop compared to 2022 and would be 28 percent below the peak in 1990. In 2022, energy consumption in Germany already hit its lowest level since the country's reunification, at 11.750 PJ. AGEB cites the production decline in energy-intensive industries as a key reason for the forecast lower energy use. Other factors include warmer temperatures compared to 2022 – which AGEB estimated was likely responsible for around a fifth of the total reduction due to reduced demand for heating – and persistently high energy prices, which are still above 2021 levels and can encourage savings or cutbacks in inland energy-intensive production. AGEB estimates that energy-related CO2 emissions for 2023 will decrease by 10.7 percent (65 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents). In the past, energy-related CO2 emissions made up about 85 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. The German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF) classed the development as worrisome: "Decreasing energy consumption is desirable for climate protection, but not at the expense of economic performance," the lobby group's head Christian Noll said.

During the first three quarters of 2023, energy use in Germany was nine percent below the same period the previous year, according to preliminary calculations by AGEB. Energy use from hard coal and lignite decreased by 19 and 23 percent respectively in the first nine months of the year, while electricity generation from nuclear power fell by 72 percent following the decommissioning of Germany's remaining nuclear reactors on 15 April. Natural gas consumption declined by 7 percent following reduced industrial demand and savings in households as well as businesses. While electricity generation from wind, solar and hydropower increased in the first nine months of the year, the contribution of renewable energies decreased slightly by 0.3 percent following a reduction in generation from biomass, which accounts for more than half of the renewables share in primary energy consumption.

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