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German Fossil Fuel Consumption Trends

November 4, 2016

By Paul Homewood



The Garzweiler coal mine in Germany


I looked at German coal production statistics earlier, but what about consumption?





There was obviously a sharp fall in the early 1990s, following German reunification and the subsequent closure of much East German heavy industry. However, for the last twenty years consumption has been pretty much flat.

This, at first sight, appears unexpected, given Germany’s reputation for supposedly going green. Even the phasing out of nuclear power, following Fukushima in 2011, does not explain this phenomenon.


In fact, when we look at CO2 emissions, these have not fallen as much as many people might have expected in recent years. They were actually higher last year than in 2009!

Again, we see that most of the reduction to date occurred in the early 1990s, and had nothing at all to do with concerns about climate change.




And all this makes more sense when we look at energy trends for all sources:





With oil and gas use also little changed, we find that overall consumption of fossil fuels is still virtually as great as in 2009, and shows little sign of reducing in the next few years.

Renewable energy, though increasing, still only accounts for 14% of total energy.


Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting Germany is backsliding. The cost of the energiewende is real.

But the cold fact is that, despite already spending an estimated 150 billion euros, little has actually changed.





1) All data is from BP Energy Review 2016


2) CO2 emissions reflect only those through consumption of oil, gas and coal for combustion related activities, and exclude other emissions, such as land use, and emissions of other greenhouse gases.

  1. November 4, 2016 1:24 pm

    I wonder how much clean green electricity is used for heating in Germany, relative to … gas, and how many electric cars fly along autobahns, relative to … petrol/diesel ones, and how many gliders and hot air balloons cross Germany, relative to … jet airliners.

  2. NeilC permalink
    November 4, 2016 1:46 pm

    If only we had such an understanding government.

  3. November 4, 2016 2:40 pm

    The way I analyze it:
    CO2 dropping reflects automobiles plus renewables plus coal split. Back out proportion of renewables, normalize for coal volume and determine improved auto emissions. You now have the sources of CO2 reductions.
    Go forward with replacement schedule of auto, say, 10 year life, front end loaded. That reduction stop. Renewables às annual electricity usage destabilizes the grid at, say, 25%. That maximizes renewable reduction. Coal volume follows renewables, minimum use at maximum renewables.

    German politicans may shut down coal in Germany, but the electricity from German coal will be replaced with that from the grid – Polish coal. Outside optics, German CO2 reduction is already determinable and limited.

    Note electric auto electricity will come from coal once the grid is maxed on renewables. Spinning coal and gas for standby also produces CO2.

  4. Graeme No.3 permalink
    November 4, 2016 4:35 pm

    If 150 billion euros only gives a small reduction in emissions, how much would be required to meet those ambitious targets? Assuming that they could be achievable.
    And given the likely civil unrest trying to achieve those wishful targets, why would any sane politician even bother?

  5. AndyG55 permalink
    November 4, 2016 7:10 pm

    “why would any SANE politician even bother?”

    And therein lies the problem.

    Many politicians are far from being sane, especially those far-left ideologues that somehow have managed to get in as leaders of most political parties.

  6. November 4, 2016 8:01 pm

    Thanks Germany for endowing us with abundant supply of CO2. CO2 THE GAS OF LIFE

  7. November 4, 2016 10:31 pm

    Now import the exported CO2 emissions, the pea so many do not want to see.

  8. November 5, 2016 9:58 am

    The Germans must know that when they close down the rest of their nuclear plants, the gap will have to be largely filled by coal and gas, not part-time renewables. If not their electricity supplies will be perpetually weather-dependent and therefore unreliable. This shouldn’t need saying in a sane world.

  9. dennisambler permalink
    November 5, 2016 12:29 pm

    In China, Coal is a green investment:

    Green bonds are becoming a hot topic in China after the country officially ratified the Paris climate accord ahead of the G20 Summit and a senior central bank official hailed China’s status as the world’s biggest green bond market in a recent speech.

    To promote China’s green bond market, the government has introduced the China Interbank Bond Market for green bonds, which provides access for overseas sovereign funds and otherlong-term institutional investors. However, so far there has been little enthusiasm from overseas investors; most buyers of green bonds in China are still local banks.

    “In think an important reason that overseas investors haven’t invested deeply in the [domestic green bond] market is that China’s definition of a green bond is a bit different from that in more developed markets,” said Beijia Ma, a strategist at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

    “It means that something labelled green in China may not be green outside China.”

    A notable feature of the Chinese guidelines, as compared to other markets, is that they permit the operators of clean coal facilities to issue green bonds, even though it is universally accepted that the funding of fossil fuel power generation does not qualify for green bond classification.

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