Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Greenpeace blames the German Merkel government for not being green enough.
21 Dec 2021, 14:21 Benjamin Wehrmann
Germany’s energy consumption rising, renewables share falling in 2021
Energy consumption in Germany has increased in 2021, as the economy recovered from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the country weathered a cold winter. At the same time, a year of depressed wind power production let the share of renewables in the country’s power mix shrink, while coal power made a strong comeback. The developments bode ill for the new German government’s plans to reduce energy use and boost renewables to record shares by 2030 – the same year it plans to end the use of coal. Energy industry representatives say the government’s plans are still feasible, but will require resolute and swift action to succeed.
The consumption of energy in Germany has increased in 2021 compared to the previous year, while the share of renewable energy sources in power production was in decline, figures released by energy market research group AGEB and by energy industry lobby association BDEW have shown. Energy consumption increased by 2.6 percent (12,193 petajoule) compared to 2020, when economic activity was severely depressed due to the coronavirus pandemic, AGEB said, adding that primary energy consumption in the country still ranked significantly below pre-crisis levels from 2019, as pandemic effects could still be felt in 2021 and supply chain interruptions further obstructed economic recovery.
Very cold weather at the beginning of the year also contributed to higher energy use and, according to AGEB, accounted for most of the increase. On the other hand, price hikes on energy markets and in the European emissions trading system (ETS) “visibly slowed down the growth-driven rise in primary energy consumption”, the researchers said.
Coal industry preparing phase-out despite increasing share in power system
In contrast to the government’s plans,coal power consumption increased markedly, with both hard coal and lignite use up by about 18 percent, whereas natural gas increased by only 4 percent. However, statistical effects played an important role in the year-on-year rise, meaning lignite use still was 5 percent lower than in 2019 and even 25 percent lower than 2018, according to coal industry association DEBRIV. However, even though lignite plants had made a “remarkable contribution” to Germany’s supply security this year and domestic supply with the fossil fuel would not be affected by price hikes like gas or oil, the increase in use in 2021 does not change the technology’s overall demise in Germany, DEBRIV head Thorsten Diercks said.
Andree Böhling of environmental action NGO Greenpeace called the jump in carbon emissions a “poisoned present” by the previous government of conservative Angela Merkel (CDU). Even if Scholz’s coalition is not to blame for the current situation, it will still have to come up with a response quickly, he argued. “Measures of an action programme must tackle the root cause of rising emissions, meaning substantially higher coal use and growing power consumption,” Böhling said, calling for a ceiling on coal power use in the electricity system and ending coal use by 2030.Read more: https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/germanys-energy-consumption-rising-renewables-share-falling-2021
If even über green Germany cannot be bothered to maintain momentum for achieving net zero, the renewable revolution is well and truly broken.