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3Q coal and fossil fuel in German electricity rises

December 14, 2021

Conventional sources of energy accounted for more than half the total electricity generated in the third quarter of 2021. The share of electricity sourced from coal, to be phased out by 2038, rose sharply.

Coal power plant in Karlsruhe in Germany, used for generation of electricity
Electricity generation from conventional energy sources increased by 2.7% compared to the third quarter of 2020Image: Zoonar/picture alliance

Conventional sources of energy accounted for more than half of Germany's electricity generated in the third quarter of 2021, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office. 

The data from the German government's statistics agency, released on Tuesday, showed that conventional sources accounted for 56.9% of the total electricity generated between the months of July and September.

Coal accounted for 31.9% of that electricity mix in the third quarter of the year. This marked a sharp year-on-year and quarter-to-quarter increase: Coal accounted for 26.4% during the same period in 2020, and accounted for 27.1% of the electricity generated in the first half of 2021.

Infografik Strommix Deutschland Vergleich 2020 vs 2021 EN

Germany's new government on December 13 approved a plan to tackle climate change, which includes a goal of generating 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Assuming comparable overall electricity usage going forward, that will require renewable electricity generation to almost double in less than a decade.

Germany also plans to stop all coal mining by 2038; many of the country's nuclear plants have already shut down, with another flurry going offline at the end of this year and the last ones scheduled to shut down by the end of 2022.

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Share of natural gas, renewable sources of energy declines

The share of natural gas was only 8.7% during the third quarter of 2021, which is over a third less electricity generated from natural gas than during the same period in 2020. This is largely because the price of natural gas increased in the second half of 2021, Destatis said.

The share of natural gas also represented the lowest quarterly value since the third quarter of 2018.

The share of renewable energy sources also fell slightly in the third quarter of 2021, at 0.8% less than in the third quarter of 2020.

On the other hand, the amount of electricity imported into Germany increased by 13.6% in the third quarter of this year, compared to the same period of 2020.

A large portion of electricity imported was from France, Germany's European neighbor, which in contrast continues to embrace nuclear power.

Germany on December 13 also approved an additional € 60 billion ($ 68 billion) in public spending to combat climate change, making use of sums that had been set aside to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic but have not been used for the cause.

rm/msh (Reuters, AP)