Impact of COVID-19 changes the energy mix in the first half of 2020

The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Germany's primary energy mix in the first half of 2020. The sharp drop in energy consumption in these special circumstances has led to declines in all energy sources except renewables.

Impact of COVID-19 changes the energy mix in the first half of 2020© BMWi; AG Energiebilanzen e.V.

According to forecasts by Germany's Working Group on Energy Balances, energy consumption in Germany could fall by 7-12% by the end of 2020. This is based on calculations for the first half of 2020, according to which the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has caused energy consumption to shrink by 8.8% compared with the same period last year. At the end of the first six months of 2020, energy consumption was only 5,961 petajoules (PJ) or 203.5 million tonnes of coal equivalent.

Effects of corona and mild weather reduce electricity consumption

According to the Working Group on Energy Balances, it is the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that are primarily responsible for the lower electricity consumption. The rather mild weather conditions seen compared to the previous year also contributed to this lower level of consumption. All major fossil fuels were affected by the decline in the first six months. Lignite and hard coal accounted for almost two thirds of the decline, which is why the Working Group also expects a significant reduction in energy-related carbon emissions for the first half of the year. According to projections, for the year 2020 as a whole, this decline could be between ten and 17%.

Renewable energy accounts for higher share of energy consumption

Renewable energy accounted for a higher share of total energy consumption in the first half of 2020, with wind power and solar energy recording a 10% increase due to favourable weather conditions. Hydroelectric power stations supplied 1% more electricity, while the share of biomass actually decreased 1%.

Overall, renewables constituted 17.5% (up 2.1%) of primary energy consumption in the first six months, mineral oil 33.9% (up 0.7 %) and natural gas 27.7% (up 1.2 %). The share of nuclear energy fell by 0.3%. For coal, the decline was particularly marked: the contribution of lignite decreased by 2.7%, while the share of hard coal fell by 1.6%. In principle, however, the energy mix continues to be broad. Primary energy refers above all to the energy that is available in the very original form of energy or energy sources. These are fuels such as coal or natural gas, but also energy sources such as the sun, wind or nuclear fuels.

Negative electricity exchange balance is significantly lower

Germany's neighbouring countries also consumed significantly less electricity in the first half of 2020, and the price of natural gas fell to a record low. The country's negative electricity exchange balance with its neighbours was therefore much lower in the first half of the year. This is based on the fact that the volume of electricity transported into Germany from abroad increased significantly, while electricity flows from Germany to neighbouring countries declined.