01/10/2013, Berlin

BDEW publishes 2012 figures on electricity and gas:

Müller: 2013 is an important year for the German energy policy

Electricity consumption slightly decreased in 2012 / Electricity generation increased / Use of gas in power stations was substantially reduced

Electricity consumption in Germany somewhat decreased by 1.4 percent in 2012 whereas gas consumption slightly rose by one percent. Gross electricity generation increased by 1.3 percent compared to the preceding year. This development is attributable, among other things, to the colder weather compared to the previous year, the leap day in 2012, and the restrained economic development. This is shown by first estimates of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft - BDEW) for the year 2012.

The positive trend in the development of renewable energies has continued: Their share in gross electricity generation totalled approximately 21.9 percent (2011: 20.3) in 2012 according to BDEW. The renewed increase in photovoltaic is remarkable; it rose from 3.2 percent to 4.6 percent. The share of nuclear energy decreased to 16 percent (17.7). During the past year, hard-coal fired power stations presumably contributed 19.1 percent (18.5) to gross electricity generation. Accounting for 25.6 percent (24.6), lignite-fired power stations continued to have the largest share in the different types of generation. A share of approximately 6 percent (5.3) has been reached by fuel oil, pumped storage and other types of plants.

The BDEW reported that the share of natural gas in electricity generation significantly decreased during the past year from 13.6 to 11.3 percent. During the first ten months, the use of natural gas in power stations, co-generation plants and heating power plants decreased by 14 percent. When focusing solely on electricity generation in power stations, the use of natural gas decreased dramatically by almost 27 percent. „This development in terms of the utilisation of gas-fired power stations clearly shows the critical situation currently faced by operators of gas-fired power plants. We have drawn attention to this fact for a long time“, Hildegard Müller, Chairwoman of the BDEW General Executive Management Board declared in Berlin.

Current reasons for this development were both the increased feed-in of electricity from renewable energy sources and the continued difference between coal and gas prices. Apart from other factors, this led to an increasing displacement of gas-fired power stations from the merit order, i.e. the order of power station commitment based on their economic efficiency. These effects were also the main reason for the strong increase of physical electricity flows to other countries in 2012.

According to provisional BDEW figures for the months of January to October 2012, the net balance of these power flows shows a surplus in flows to other countries of approximately 17 billion kilowatt-hours (billion kWh). First estimates of the sector association for the whole year show that a surplus of 23 billion kWh (2011: 6) is to be expected. By far the largest share in this increase is attributable to exchanges with the Netherlands where gas-fired power plants are predominantly operated. The result of the European merit order was that also in the Netherlands gas-fired power stations were displaced from the market and replaced by cheaper electricity generated from coal in Germany.

„In terms of electricity exports to other countries we have reached a historical maximum value. However, it is wrong to believe that we can be unconcerned with regard to security of supply issues. We cannot, because what matters is the place and time of electricity supply and demand. Electricity must be available any moment and at any location. Hence, general considerations do not get us any further. These developments need to be taken into consideration as soon as possible. 2013 is an important year for the German energy policy. We must take advantage of this year to enter into important discussions and carry out preparatory work for the period beyond the Bundestag election“, Hildegard Müller declared.

It was for instance important this year to refine the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetzes - EEG): „We should make use of the scope available within the EEG in order to adjust development targets to efficiency and security of supply criteria“, the Chairwoman of the BDEW General Executive Management Board declared. It was important at the same time to pursue the further development of the conventional generation market. In 2015, at the latest, a basic political decision had to be taken on the future market design. „The BDEW will make a proposal on the question of the future market design and thus of the integration of renewable and fossil energies. We will also have to give some thought to how we will be able to establish a future market in reliably available capacity“, Müller said.

Moreover, it is of crucial importance to further improve the coordination and control of the energy system’s transformation. „To this end, a joint major effort, especially on the level of Federal/State Dialogue and a fair balance of interests are needed for all parties involved. Cooperatively with the WWF we have therefore made a proposal on how to make sure that all players may permanently participate in making the energy system’s transformation a success. The establishment of a „National Forum for the transformation of the energy system“ can also in the short term provide an impetus and ensure stabilisation“, Hildegard Müller emphasised.

An objective intervention mechanism was required for the implementation of the energy transformation. This mechanism may be organised together with the Forum. Müller: „The national forum for the energy turnaround shall guarantee a permanent exchange of views between the political leaders at Federal and Laender level and simultaneously establish a sustainable exchange of views among all relevant social groups. This Forum naturally needs a strong national mandate, for instance through a decision of the German Bundestag. This would also enable citizens to be more closely involved in the transformation of the energy system and thus to better understand the related measures.“

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Frank Brachvogel
Pressesprecher / Press Spokesman
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