GERMAN ELECTRICITY TO GET DIRTIER IN 2022, NEW ANALYSIS FINDS

Germany is expected to increase its fossil fuel consumption for electricity generation in 2022, if its weather conditions and electricity demand are similar to 2021, a new analysis from Environmental Progress finds. 

This would come on top of an increase in fossil fuel usage in the public electricity supply in 2021 as compared to 2020, when consumption of electricity was lowered due to COVID-19-related shutdowns and disruption.

Next year,the share of German electricity generation coming from fossil fuels could be as high as 44 percent, compared to 39 percent in 2021 and 37 percent in 2020.

Emissions from Germany’s power sector could thus rise from 244 million tons in 2021 to 264 million tons in 2022. Germany’s 2020 goal was a 40 percent reduction in overall emissions from 1990, which it met thanks to an unexpected drop in power sector emissions to 211 MMT, from the pandemic and helpful weather for renewable energy generation. With its 2021 and 2022 electricity generation profile, Germany would have missed its targets.

By comparing the expected change in power plants available in Germany next year to those available this year, we find that if Germany experiences similar weather conditions and electricity demand, the expected addition of solar and wind capacity is not sufficient to make up for the loss of nuclear plants. Because sufficient coal and natural gas capacity is available to make up for any nuclear loss, Germany’s power system will be more than capable of making up any zero-carbon shortfall using this extra coal and gas capacity.

METHODS

Historical data for electricity generation by fuel type, and installed capacity of power plants, is from the Transparency Platform of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).

To model expected electricity generation by fuel type in 2022 assuming similar demand as in 2021, we first calculate net load for each quarter-hour interval in 2021. Here, we define net load as the difference of actual load and the sum of all renewable and nuclear generation.

Next, we calculate the historical capacity factors of onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, and nuclear for each quarter-hour interval in 2021. An aggregation of these capacity factors by month is reproduced in the chart below.

Then, we multiply these quarter-hourly capacity factors by the installed capacity expected for wind, solar, and nuclear in 2022 according to planning documents from the ministries of the Federal Government of Germany. Finally, assuming electrical load profiles and weather conditions in 2022 match those in 2021, we project net load for each quarter-hour interval of the year. Based on the relative merit order of each fuel during the last months of 2021, marginal net load for each hour of 2022 is assumed to be ⅔ coal and ⅓ gas. Germany’s electricity import balance is assumed to remain unchanged between 2021 and 2022, as similar weather conditions and pan-European economic conditions affect many European countries similarly.