At a glance
- Overall, primary energy consumption in Germany has been decreasing slightly. Between 1990 and 2021 it fell by 18 %.
- According to the political targets of the German federal government, consumption is to be reduced by 30 % by 2030 and by 50 % by 2050.
- Since 2008, energy consumption has fallen by an average of 1.3 % per year. In order to achieve the 2030 target, primary energy consumption would have to decline by an average of 2.1 % per year from 2021 onwards.
The use of energy plays an eminent role in the production of goods. We also require energy in various ways in our day-to-day life, for example for mobility, heating and electric appliances in our households.
However, using and generating energy is also associated with many forms of environmental pollution: Mining of raw materials such as coal or petroleum destroys soil. In addition, water is polluted, compromising local ecosystems. The transport of raw materials consumes additional energy, generating greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants that damage human health. Transforming and providing energy puts further pressure on the environment.
Therefore, lowering the primary energy consumption is an important part of an energy transition, alongside the switch to alternative and renewable energy sources.
Assessing the development
In 2021, 18 % less primary energy was consumed in Germany than in 1990. As recently as 2006, consumption was almost as high as in 1990. Since then, it has fallen significantly. In 2020, a number of sectors were affected by restrictions due to the Corona pandemic. Accordingly, energy consumption was 11,691 petajoules, the lowest since 1990. In 2021, consumption increased again by 2.6 % compared to 2020. This is the second lowest value since 1990. However, various sectors were still affected by the Corona pandemic in 2021.
The trend to date is probably not sufficient to achieve the targets set by the German federal government. In 2010, the government agreed in its Energy Concept to reduce primary energy consumption by 20 % by 2020 and 50 % by 2050 compared to 2008 (BMWi, BMU 2010, in German only). Germany's integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), envisages a reduction in primary energy consumption of 30 % in 2030 and 50% in 2050 compared to 2008 (BReg 2020, Energy Efficiency Strategy 2050). The target of the energy concept for 2020 (- 20 % compared to 2008) was missed with a decrease of 17.3 %.
By 2021, primary energy consumption had fallen by 15.2% compared with 2008. This corresponds to an average annual decrease of 1.3 %. To meet the 2030 target, energy consumption would have had to fall by 1.6 % per year. If the 2030 target is still to be met, primary energy consumption will have to fall by 2.1 % a year from 2021. This is very ambitious. The measures of the "National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2.0" set out in the Energy Efficiency Strategy 2050 must be implemented consistently (BMWi 2019).
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 (AGEB 2015, in German only).
More detailed information: 'Primärenergieverbrauch' (in German only).