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Dictionary

German Energy Mix

Germany has an ambitious programme for the elimination of nuclear power and the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels.

  • German Primary Energy
    • Primary energy is energy as it is provided by nature, before any conversions for human purposes. Germany has a broad energy mix, for electricity generation, heating, industry, mobility and agriculture. The mix is changing for market and political reasons.

      Primary Energy consumption in Germany for all purposes, 1990-2016

      Note: 1.0 EJ = one exajoule = 1018 J = 277 TWh

      Year 1990 1995 2000 2005
      Type EJTWh% EJTWh% EJTWh% EJTWh%
      Anthracite 2.3164115.5 2.0657214.4 2.0256114.0 1.8150212.4
      Lignite 3.2088921.5 1.7348212.2 1.5543110.8 1.6044311.0
      Total coal 5.51153037.0 3.79105426.6 3.5799224.8 3.4194523.4
      Oil 5.22145035.0 5.69158040.0 5.50152038.2 5.17143035.5
      Natural gas 2.2963715.4 2.8077819.6 2.9982920.7 3.2590322.3
      Total Fossils 13.0361787.4 12.3341286.2 12.1334183.7 11.8327881.2
      Nuclear 1.6746311.2 1.6846711.8 1.8551412.9 1.7849412.2
      Wind/ PV/ Hydro .05816.1.39 .08323.1.58 .12735.3.88 .17348.11.2
      Biomass /waste .139390.93 .19153.11.3 .29080.62.0 .5961654.1
      Total 14.9054140 14.2693964 14.4024001 14.5584044

      Year 2010 2012 2014 2016
      Type EJTWh% EJTWh% EJTWh% EJTWh%
      Anthracite 1.7147612.1 1.7347912.8 1.7648913.3 1.6445412.2
      Lignite 1.5142010.6 1.6545712.2 1.5743711.9 1.5342411.4
      Total coal 3.2289622.7 3.3893625.0 3.3392625.2 3.1787823.6
      Oil 4.68130033.0 4.53126033.7 4.49125034.1 4.56127034.0
      Natural gas 3.1788122.3 2.9281121.7 2.6673920.2 3.0484522.7
      Total Fossils 11.1307778.0 10.8300780.4 10.5291579.5 10.8299380.3
      Nuclear 1.5342610.7 1.093018.1 1.062947.7 .932586.9
      Wind/ PV/ Hydro .25470.61.8 .35699.92.7 .4071133.1 .5291473.9
      Biomass /waste 1.163228.2 1.032867.7 1.113098.0 1.163238.7
      Total 14.2173949 13.4473735 131803661 134263729
  • German nuclear power foreclosure
    • Following the collapse of confidence in the nuclear industry's safety assurances in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, Germany immediately began a dramatic nuclear foreclosure programme, planning a complete exit from nuclear electricity and thermal generation by 2022. This is for a range reasons: safety, environmental, financial, social, political, but also most tellingly, financial.

      8 plants, in operation since 1975-1984, were shut down in 2011. They were therefore aged between 27 and 36 years. 7 of these will be dismantled and disposed of by 2020, and the 8th by 2032.

      Here is a list of the remaining 9 German reactors and their respective decommissioning dates:

      NameOp.ClosureTypeOutput (gross el.)Owner
      Grafenrheinfeld19822015PWR (III)*1.345 GWE.ON
      Gundremmingen B19842017Boiling water reactor1.344 GWKGG
      Philippsburg 219852019PWR1.468 GW
      Gundremmingen C19852021BWR1.344 GWKGG
      Grohnde19852021PWR1.360 GWGGG
      Brokdorf19862021PWR1.480 GWE.ON (80 %) und Vattenfall (20 %)
      Isar 219882022PWR(IV)*1.485 GWE.ON
      Emsland19882022PWR(IV)*1.406 GWKKW Lippe-Ems
      Neckarwestheim 219892022PWR (IV)*1.400 GWEnBW

      * III = third generation; IV = fourth generation

      BWR = Boiling Water Reactor; PWR = Pressurised Water Reactor

      The decommissioning and disposal phase of these 9 reactors will last till 2035. The total number of reactors being decommissioned by 2035 is 17, at a cost of around 45 billion euro. As of end of 2015, there is a shortfall in decommissioning fund provisions of at least 8 billion euro.

      Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Station
      Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Station. Photo courtesy of Felix Koenig
  • German Fossil Fuels
    • Despite an ambitious plan to eliminate fossil fuels by the middle of the century, Germany has so far made little or no progress in reducing the use of fossil fuels, or to reduce its greenhouse gases. Progress in renewable energy electricity generating capacity has only made up for the loss in capacity due to the accelerated closure of the country's 19 nuclear power stations.

      Fossil Energy in German Electricity Production 1990-2016
      LigniteAnthraciteMethaneOilTotal
      YearGWh%GWh%GWh%GWh%GWh%
      1990170.931.1140.825.635.96.510.82.0358.465.2
      1995142.626.6147.127.441.17.79.11.7339.963.4
      2000148.325.7143.124.849.28.55.91.0346.560.0
      2005154.124.8134.121.572.711.712.01.9372.959.9
      2010145.923.1117.018.589.314.18.71.4360.957.1
      2012160.725.6116.418.576.412.27.61.2361.157.5
      2014155.824.9118.618.961.19.75.70.9341.254.4
      2016150.023.1111.517.280.512.45.90.9347.953.6

      Total Fossil Energy Consumption (all purposes) in Germany 1990-2016
      LigniteAnthraciteMethaneOilTotal
      YearTJ%TJ%TJ%TJ%TJ%
      19903074-23025298
      19912514-24175538
      19922189-23785611
      19931984-24995661
      19941869-25625645
      19951737-28185668
      19961691-31515792
      19971602-30125801
      19981515-30455829
      19991479-30145627
      20001556-30085484
      20011641-31655603
      20021667-31645386
      20031645104.131775223
      2004165886.231905153
      2005160982.432575086
      2006159174.833205099
      2007162981.332034611
      2008157394.232314879
      2009152982.130454599
      2010153886.431784661
      20111593103.629144494
      20121674103.829234504
      20131655100.830614605
      20141605104.526534539
      20151597104.527284497
      2016

      Data source: www.destatis.de

  • German post-nuclear energy mix
    • The German government has the stated intention of reducing CO2 emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

      CO2 Reduction commitments

      The target implies replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources. However, in 2007 the government authorised the building of 26 new coal plants. The new design allows for better management, lower loading and flexibility through combined cycle plant design, which will permit greater degrees of efficiency.

      With the closure of 8 nuclear plants since the Fukushima aftermath decision, coal consumption has increased, highlighting the difficulties of maintaining the CO2 reduction commitments in the absence of the nuclear contribution.

      At the end of 2022, there will be no more German nuclear reactors generating electricity. What is the plan for the new Energy Mix?

      The goals of at least 40% of Germany's electricity from renewable energy by 2025, and 55-60% by 2035, seem much more feasible now than when the ambition was first formulated in the 2000 Renewable Energy Act. The intervening years have seen an unprecedented increase in German use of clean, renewable energies. The mix of wind and solar also allows flexibility in supply, and aids efficiency in the traditional dirty power stations by off-setting peaks in demand.