21 Dec 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Julian Wettengel

Germany uses more energy/ 2,000 businesses exempt from renewables levy

AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB)

Germany’s primary energy consumption rose by 0.8 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to preliminary calculations by energy market group AG Energiebilanzen. This was due to a strong economy, the group wrote in a press release. Germany consumed a total of 13,525 petajoules of energy in 2017. The increased use of petrol and diesel in transport, and of naphtha in the chemical industry, has led to a 3 percent rise in mineral oil consumption. Natural gas consumption grew 5.2 percent due to its increased use in electricity generation and heating, while hard coal and lignite use decreased in 2017 (-10.4 percent and -0.6 percent, respectively). Nuclear energy consumption decreased by 10.3 percent. Renewable sources supplied 6.1 percent more than in 2016, and electricity feed-in from wind rose 34 percent. This brings the overall share of renewables in Germany’s total primary energy consumption to 13.1 percent (12.5 percent in 2016). AG Energiebilanzen expects energy-related CO₂ emissions to stagnate in 2017.

Development of primary energy consumption in Germany 2017, compared to 2016. Source - AG Energiebilanzen 2017.

Find the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany's energy use and emissions likely to rise yet again in 2017, and the factsheet Germany’s energy consumption and power mix in charts.

The turnover of enterprises with 20 or more persons employed in the energy, water, and waste management industries amounted to 510.1 billion euros in 2016, a decrease of 9.8 percent compared with 2015, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said in a press release. The turnover declined for the fourth year in a row, due in part to the decrease in electricity and gas prices. In the same period, however, the number of persons employed was up 2.1 percent to nearly 437,000, writes Destatis.

Find the press release in English here, and a longer version in German here.

For background, read the CLEW dossiers Utilities and the energy transition and The energy transition's effect on jobs and business.

Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bafa) / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In 2018, a total of 1,908 German businesses at 2,421 locations will be largely exempt from having to pay the country’s renewables levy (EEG surcharge) on electricity, writes the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bafa), which is in charge of the approval process. According to the energy industry, the value of exemption amounted to about 6.5 billion euros, or one fourth of the annual EEG payments, writes Andreas Mihm in an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Businesses have applied for a total of 114 terawatt hours to be exempted, which equalled around 20 percent of the country’s total power consumption in 2016. Energy intensive businesses with high electricity costs are exempt from up to 90 percent of the renewables levy to ensure their competitiveness in the international markets. The remaining power consumers – private households, small and less energy intensive businesses, and public buildings – thus have to bear a proportionately larger share of the EEG costs. Rail companies lead the list of exempted companies in terms of power consumed, followed by synthetic material producers, paper producers, and aluminium makers. More than a third of exempted companies are located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s economic power house.

Find the press release in German here, detailed information in this PDF (also German), and read the article in FAZ in German here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Balancing the books: Germany's "green energy account",  and the CLEW dossier The reform of the Renewable Energy Act.

Energy, Sustainability and Society

The real lesson of the German Energiewende is not that the transition to renewables is very expensive. Quite the contrary: it is affordable in highly industrialised countries, writes Tomas Unnerstall in an article in the journal Energy, Sustainability and Society.  “There [is] no doubt that the German Energiewende, at first sight, does not serve as an encouraging example in this respect”, Unnerstall argues. “A closer look at the costs of the German energy transition, however, reveals that around 75 percent of them are due to two particularities of the Energiewende that do not hold true for other energy transitions: the politically enforced nuclear phase-out and the fact that Germany massively expanded renewable energies at a time when they were still very expensive.”

Read the article in English here.


The looming EU fines for excessive emissions after 2020 make it cheaper for the car industry to develop electric cars than to cling to the diesel, argues Markus Fasse in a commentary in the business daily Handelsblatt. In recent years, the car industry has made feeble advances in reducing emissions despite Germany’s massive diesel subsidies. In contrast, electric car sales will shelter the industry from EU fines that could easily reach billions of euros. Suggestions by VW CEO Matthias Müller that diesel subsidies should be cut show that “the German car industry adjusts to this new reality, and the slow but certain good-bye to the diesel is the result”. Fasse says the question of diesel fuel taxes will likely have to be addressed by the new government, even if politicians are lagging behind the industry in promoting the shift to electric mobility.

Read the commentary in German here.    

Find plenty of background in the dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

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