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GERMANY’S ENERGY MIX

1 May 2017

Despite the Energiewende, Germany remains heavily dependent on imports of fossil fuels. In particular, Germany dependence on Russia is even higher: the country sources 36 percent of its natural gas imports and 39 percent of its oil imports from Russian energy suppliers. In 2013, as per the latest data available, Russia was by far the largest supplier of oil to Germany, delivering 31.4 million tonnes or 35%. Norway provided 11 million tonnes, the UK 9.3 million tonnes. More than 30 countries supplied oil to Germany.

Overall oil contributed 35 percent to Germany’s primary energy use in 2014, but its share has been steadily decreasing since 2000. Most oil was used for transport, followed by heating, according to estimate of Clean Energy Wire.

Germany consumed 91 billion cubic metres (cbm) of natural gas in 2013. Again the largest supplier was Russia (39 percent), followed by Norway (around 30 percent) and the Netherlands. Germany needs to import nearly 90% of the gas it consumes. Gas contributed about 22.9 percent to Germany’s primary energy use in 2013. Most of it was used in households for heating as well as cooking, and only a fraction to produce electric power.

Importantly coal-fired power generation in Germany fell in 2014 year for the first time since 2009, while renewables became the largest source of electricity.  Yet Germany’s largest share of domestic fossil fuels is in the form of coal. 

This is largely due to a sudden decision in 2011, in reaction to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, to rapidly phase out nuclear power. Between 2009 and 2013, total coal-fired power generation indeed increased, although data reveal that the rise was modest. Overall, in 2013, Germany spent around 90 billion euros on energy imports. Its leading coal suppliers are Russia (29 percent), Columbia (21 percent), and the United States (20 per cent). Overall Russia remains Germany’s single largest energy supplier as 30 percent of the country’s imports are currently from Russia.

One thing is clear that the decision taken by Germany in 2011 to shut eight nuclear reactors prompted greater coal-fired generation. Falling natural-gas generation also contributed to more coal burning, as gas was squeezed between renewables growth, cheaper coal and stagnant energy demand.

But the Germany has made it clear that coal-fired power generation has a finite shelf-life and that its final goal is the abolition of coal and other non-renewable energy sources. 

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