04/23/2012, Hanover

BDEW publishes power station list and figures on energy consumption:

Regardless of billion-euro investments, power station construction cannot be proclaimed fine

Sector intends to invest 60 billion Euros in 84 electricity generating plants / Electricity consumption decreased and natural gas consumption rose at the beginning of 2012

The German energy sector wants to invest in the construction and modernisation of 84 major electricity generating plants as shown by the new power station list presented at the beginning of the 2012 Hanover Fair by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft - BDEW). The plants in question have a capacity of more than 20 Megawatt. They are already in trial operation, under construction, in the process of approval or in the planning stage. "Despite the well-known risks, the energy sector moves very optimistically ahead with its investments, particularly as far as the extension of large renewables-based plants is concerned. The enhanced ommitment, such as to offshore plants and pumped-storage power stations, is a positive signal showing the sector’s capital expenditure in the future energy supply. However, this must not obscure the fact that the plans for renewables-based plants also come across obstacles in the same way as coal and gas-fired power stations. Some plans concerning conventional power stations seem to have been put on ice", Hildegard Müller, Chairperson of the BDEW General Executive Management Board declared.

According to BDEW information, the projects correspond to an installed capacity of approximately 42,000 Megawatt and an investment volume of more than 60 billion Euro. 69 of the 84 projects are at least in the process of approval. In addition are another 15 projects still in the stage of planning. All these construction projects are carried out by municipal utilities, large energy suppliers, different alliances and private investors. Furthermore, there are a large number of small decentralised projects not shown on this list which are mainly implemented by municipal utilities.
Companies are planning to construct 23 major offshore wind energy plants and 10 pumped-storage power plants. „A large number of offshore projects have been put in concrete term. They thus show an equally large increase as new pumped-storage power stations. But these renewables-based projects also meet with similar problems and uncertainties (sufficiently discussed at the present time) as conventional construction projects in terms of realisation“, Müller said.

According to BDEW information, 29 gas-fired power stations are planned in total. „Though certain projects have already been approved, the concrete investment decision has obviously not been taken yet because the companies are analysing the projects’ economic efficiency. The long-term amortisation of these investments with a predictable decrease in utilisation hours makes it difficult to analyse the risks“, Hildegard Müller declared. BDEW’s Consentec Study shows that operation of conventional power stations will be reduced by 40 percent on average in 2020. Moreover, legal uncertainty was an issue for the planned 17 coal-fired power stations. Müller: „Though all or part of the projects have been approved, actions against the approval of the construction of many coal-fired power stations are still pending.“

„The power station list provides an optimistic view of investment developments. It shows that sufficient projects are in the pipeline to replace outgoing nuclear energy and serve as backup to renewable energies“, Müller said. 15 of the 84 construction projects were still in the stage of planning. „I assume that these projects are in the pipeline particularly for reasons of future economic efficiency and uncertainties in terms of framework conditions“, Hildegard Müller underlined. There also was a risk that specifically plants of low profitability were additionally taken from the market.
„The resulting gap can be partly filled by retrofitting measures and a more flexible use of existing plants. But it is also necessary to build numerous new power plants. The question of economic efficiency has however not been clarified for many existing plants and new power stations to be built. The government certainly has to tackle the problem of the future market design with a view to having defined by 2015, at the latest, the framework conditions for the possible construction of new generating capacities by 2020“, Müller emphasised.

As every year, BDEW presented in Hanover up-to-date figures on electricity and natural gas consumption which has developed at different rates at the beginning of the year. According to preliminary figures for January and February 2012, electricity consumption has decreased by 3.7 percent compared to the preceding year. This was mainly attributable to the mild weather in January and the poor economic situation in other countries. On the other hand, BDEW underlined that natural gas consumption increased by 6.6 percent in the first two months of this year. This increase was due to the relatively cold February and this year’s extra calendar day on 29 February.

According to BDEW, natural gas consumption totalling 841.6 billion kilowatt-hours in 2011 (billion kWh) was 13 percent below the value of 2010 (966.7 billion kWh). The comparatively mild winter led to a strong decrease of sales in the heat market. „Compared to the preceding year, winter 2011 was relatively mild and short. Higher temperatures during the entire 2011 heating period have overlapped the positive effects of the rise of economic activity“, Müller said. In 2011, natural gas consumption was only about one percent below its value of the preceding year after adjustment for the weather effect.
Compared to the previous year, electricity consumption remained stable in 2011. Consumption totalling 540.8 billion kWh decreased only by 0.1 percent (2010: 541.1 billion kWh). Despite the generally good economic situation, electricity consumption during the first six months of 2011 increased only insignificantly. Throughout the second half of the year 2011, electricity consumption was lower than in the preceding year, BDEW underlined. Apart from the mild weather and the reduced demand for air conditioning in summer, the lower electricity consumption was also attributable to decreasing production figures of electricity-intensive industries. „All this is also the decisive reason for the reduced CO2 emissions in Germany in 2011“, Hildegard Müller said.

According to BDEW information, industry will remain the largest natural gas and electricity consumer. In 2011, its share in net electricity consumption totalled 47 percent. In absolute terms, electricity consumption of industry amounted to 251.7 billion kWh (2010: 250.2 billion kWh) during the past year. Approximately 42 percent of the entire natural gas was supplied to industry in the same year. In total, natural gas sales to industry amounted to 352.0 billion kWh (2010: 348.3 billion kWh).

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