Indicator: Primary energy consumption

A graph shows primary energy consumption between 1990 and 2023 as well as the target value for 2030. Until 2008, the value fluctuated around 14,500 Petajoules, but has since fallen considerably.Click to enlarge
Development of primary energy consumption
Source: German Environment Agency on basis of the Working Group on Energy Balances Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • Primary energy consumption (PEC) in Germany has fallen significantly since the end of the 2000s. It fell by 25 % between 2008 and 2023.
  • According to the Energy Efficiency Act of 2023, PEC is to be reduced by 39% by 2030 compared to 2008.
  • The 'Projection Report 2023' by the German Environment Agency indicates that the measures taken so far will likely be insufficient to achieve these targets.
  • The indicator PEC is methodologically distorted by renewables: If the share of renewables increases, primary energy consumption decreases, even if final energy consumption remains constant.

Environmental importance

The use and generation of energy is associated with a wide range of environmental impacts: The extraction of raw materials such as coal or crude oil can cause significant damage to ecosystems. Energy is consumed during the transportation of raw materials, and greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants are emitted. Environmental pollution also occurs during the conversion and provision of energy. Alongside the switch to alternative and renewable energies, reducing the PEV is therefore an important component of the energy transition.

However, the "primary energy consumption" indicator is subject to methodological distortions: When the share of renewables increases, primary energy consumption decreases, even if final energy consumption remains constant (see section "How is the indicator calculated?" at the end of the article).  The indicator "final energy consumption" is more reliable with regard to the energy consumption of an economy.


Assessing the development

In 2023, Germany consumed 28% less primary energy than in 1990. In 2006, consumption was still almost as high as in 1990. Since then, it has fallen significantly. On one hand, this is due to falling final energy consumption. Also, the switch to renewable energy sources was accompanied by a disproportionate fall in PEC. Russia's war against Ukraine caused an energy price crisis, which led to reduced production of energy-intensive goods in Germany. In 2023, this contributed to the lowest energy consumption since 1990.

The Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) adopted in 2023 sets the target of reducing the PEV by 39% below the 2008 PEV by 2030. The "Projection Report 2023 for Germany" (in German, with comprehensive English summary) examined whether Germany can achieve its energy and climate targets in 2030 on the basis of scenario analyses: If all the measures planned by the governing coalition are implemented, the PEC is expected to fall by around 30% in 2030 compared to 2008 (with-measures scenario). This would clearly fall short of the EnEfG target of a 39 % reduction by 2030. Further measures to reduce the PEC are therefore necessary in order to achieve the EnEfG targets.



The total primary energy consumption is determined by the Working Group on Energy Balances (AGEB) on the basis of efficiency ratios. The energy carriers burnt in power stations and other combustion plants are multiplied by their calorific value. The efficiency ratio of electricity generated from wind, hydropower or photovoltaic is defined as 100%, while in geothermal energy it is 10% and in nuclear energy 33%. Explanations of the calculation methods are published in the Preface to the Energy Balances (in German only).

More detailed information: 'Primärenergieverbrauch' (in German only).

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