German energy use seen down 2.3% to more than 40-year low

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German energy usage should fall 2.3% in 2019 to a more than 40-year low, due to efficiency measures, a slowing economy and a structural change toward service industries, data from industry group AGEB showed on Tuesday.

The AGEB estimated Europe’s biggest economy, whose major power producers are RWE, Uniper and EnBW, will see full-year energy usage fall to 437.0 million tonnes of coal equivalent, an industry standard measure.

That is down from 447.3 million the year before and would be the third straight year of decline after the 2018 total already represented the lowest usage since the early 1970s

In the first nine months of 2019 Germany’s primary energy consumption has already fallen 2.3% year-on-year to 315.9 million tonnes equivalent. Coal and nuclear usage fell, while renewables and natural gas rose, AGEB noted.

Positive factors for energy use, such as population growth and cooler weather than a year earlier, limited the extent of the decline.

Use of imported hard coal shrank by 18.4% and that of domestic brown coal by 21.7% in the nine months, because steelmakers and working power plants used less feedstock amid maintenance standstills and reduced mining. Some brown coal generation plants were shut under environmental laws.

Renewable energy usage increased by 4% from solar, wind and hydro sources, while that from biomass remained unchanged.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by David Holmes