Factsheet: Energy in Germany

Updated on 08.05.2021

5 min read

High School
Economic and social sciences

The Basics

 

What Energy Sources Are Consumed in Germany?

This chart shows the breakdown of consumption in Germany: 

 

Oil35.2%
Natural gas25.1%
Renewables14.9%
9.1%
8.6%
Nuclear6.4%
Other0.7%

Source: 

  1. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen

 

  • Total consumption: 306 million metric tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe), or 12,815 gigajoules (GJ), representing 157.3 GJ per capita (France: 245 Mtoe, i.e., 148.6 GJ per capita; world: 15,000 Mtoe).
  • Still Dominated by Fossil Fuels. Oil, gas and coal/lignite account for 78% of primary energy consumption. Germany imports 41.1% of its oil (Russia, Norway), 42% of its gas (Russia, Norway, the Netherlands) and 9% of its coal (Russia, the United States, Colombia).
  • Nuclear in steep decline. In the wake of Fukushima, Germany scheduled the complete shutdown of all its nuclear power plants by the end of 2022.
  • Renewables (wind, solar, ) are progressing steadily. In ten years, these sources rose from 8.9% (2009) to 14.8% (2019) of total primary energy consumption.

 

 

What Is This Energy Used For?

Here is a table detailing each sector’s share of final energy consumption:

 

TransportationOil, renewables 30.09%
ResidentialGas, oil, , renewables26.16%
IndustryGas, coal, electricity27.55%
Commercial (offices, services, businesses)Electricity, gas, oil14.58%
Agriculture, fishing and constructionOil, biomass, electricity1.62%

 

As in France, two of the three biggest energy consumers are the transportation and housing sectors. However, Germany’s robust industrial sector is also highly energy intensive.
 

Source : 

  1. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen

 

How Is Electricity Generated in Germany? 

Share of the various energy sources used for power generation:

 

Renewables*36.59%
Coal27.96%
Gas14.86%
Nuclear12.26%
Hydro3.30%
Oil0.83%
Other4.20%

* Of which:

  • Wind: 56.2%
  • Solar: 21.2%
  • Other ( , biomass, etc.): 22.6%


Source : 

  1. BP Statistical Review of world Energy – 2020, 69th edition

 

  • Coal is still the second largest source of electricity generation, despite its share shrinking by 7.5% between 2018 and 2019.
  • Renewables are steadily rising, increasing from 15% in 2008 to 36.6% in 2019 (up 4.6% versus 2018). They are the primary source of electricity in Germany.
  • Nuclear is in decline and should be eliminated following the shutdown of three power plants in late 2021 and three others by the end of 2022.

     

How Much CO2 Does Germany Emit?

This graph shows the change in emissions per capita since 2000 (in metric tons of CO2):

 


Source : 

  1. Eurostat

 

Germany is the country that emits the most CO2 in the European Union, accounting for a quarter of total E.U. emissions alone. Emissions are slowly falling, partly due to transportation and production (coal/gas).

 

Where Is Electricity Generated?
  • In coal-fired and gas-fired power plants, as well as a few oil-fired plants.
  • In wind and solar farms, such as the Weesow-Willmersdorf solar park.
  • In waste and waste-based plants.
  • In hydropower facilities, such as the Iffezheim power plant.

 

Future Challenges

What Are Germany’s Objectives?

1. Phase out nuclear power, reduce the share of fossil fuels in the energy mix and in particular cut its (still heavy) dependence on coal, a major source of CO2 emissions.

2. Transition to an energy system based on renewables in the second half of the century.

3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% to 95% by 2050 versus 1990 levels.

4. Halve final energy consumption by 2050 (the same target as France).


How Can They Be Achieved?

1. By shutting down nuclear power plants (by end-2022) and coal-fired plants (by 2038 at the latest).

2. By developing renewables on a massive scale.

3. By re-thinking sustainable mobility and cutting the industrial sector’s dependence on oil imports.

4. By reorganizing its grid for improved power distribution, and by increasing its electricity storage capacity.

Quick Quiz: Energy and You

  1. After shutting down its last six nuclear power plants in 2022, Germany will then close its coal-fired plants. But when will it do this?
    Germany will begin closing down its coal-fired plants in 2021. The aim is to phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2038 at the latest, and possibly by 2035.
     
  2. Which German automaker is set to conduct a zero-emission, smart mobility trial on a Greek island?
    The Volkswagen Group, which has chosen Astypalaia, a small island in the Dodecanese, for an all-electric mobility trial project, with e-cars, e-scooters, e-bikes and a ride-sharing service. All public and private modes of transportation on the island will be electric, with the number of vehicles set to drop from 1,500 to 1,000. The Greek government will also set up wind and solar power facilities to supply the electricity.
     
  3. Germany wants to develop, on a national and even international scale, a source that is not yet widely used. What is it?
    , which a source of renewable energy provided that it is produced by water electrolysis, and that this process is powered by carbon-free electricity. In June 2020, Germany created the National Hydrogen Council to implement its strategy for decarbonizing the steelmaking, chemical, transportation and other sectors. The council has set aside €7 billion for research and infrastructure, with a view to producing 5 gigawatts of power by 2030.
     
  4. Where is the largest solar farm in Germany?
    Located in Werneuchen (Brandenburg), 26 kilometers northeast of Berlin, the Weesow-Willmersdorf solar park will have 465,000 solar modules upon completion, supplying green power to nearly 50,000 homes and avoiding approximately 129,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. The first section came on stream in December 2020.
     
  5. What is the largest hydropower plant in Germany?
    The Iffezheim hydropower plant, a dam on the Rhine at the French-German border, straddling the towns of Iffezheim in Germany and Roppenheim in France. With its five turbines, the facility, built on the German bank, is the country’s most powerful hydropower plant, and one of the biggest in Europe, supplying power to 250,000 homes.

Future and innovations

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