FRANKFURT, Jan 6 (Reuters) - German energy usage fell 2.3% in 2019 to a more than 40-year low due to efficiency measures, a slowing economy and a shift from manufacturing to service industries, industry group AGEB said on Monday, confirming an October forecast. In its annual report the AGEB said full-year primary energy usage in Europe's biggest economy fell to 437.3 million tonnes of coal equivalent, an industry standard measure, to hit its lowest level since the early 1970s in a third year of declines. Positive factors for energy use, such as population growth and cooler weather than a year earlier, had limited the extent of the drop. Hard coal usage fell by 20.5% to a historic low, replaced by high wind and solar power production that is given priority on transmission grids, and with high mandatory carbon emissions prices encouraging the burning of gas as an alternative. Use of domestic brown coal fell by 20.7% for similar reasons. Generation plants also took longer maintenance outages and some moved into reserve status, while the Hambach mining site delivered less output than planned due to a standstill in a row with environmentalists. Gas usage rose by 3.6% in power plants and as the weather required more home heating, AGEB said. Big power generators include RWE, Uniper and EnBW. Renewable usage increased by 4% from solar, biomass, wind and hydro sources. Mineral oil usage rose by 1.7% due to more sales of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel and heating oil, which more than offset losses in naphtha sales to industry. Overall, the changes resulted in a 7%, or 50 million tonne, decline in Germany's annual carbon dioxide emissions, AGEB said. Figures in the following table are rounded and expressed in million tonnes of coal equivalent.* USE BY Jan-Dec 2018 Jan-Dec 2019 PERCENTAGE CHANGE ENERGY YR/YR SOURCE Mineral oil 151.6 154.2 + 1.7 Natural gas 105.4 109.2 + 3.6 Hard coal 48.7 38.7 - 20.5 Lignite 50.4 39.9 - 20.7 Nuclear 28.3 28.0 - 1.1 energy Renewables 61.6 64.6 + 4.0 Foreign - 6.3 - 4.5 ... power trade balance Others 7.8 7.4 - 4.8 TOTAL 447.5 437.3 - 2.3 * One million tonnes coal equivalent unit equals 29.308 petajoules. (Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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