Our figure of the month 01/2022: Electricity consumption – today, tomorrow and the contribution of hydrogen


Gross electricity consumption was 577 TWh in 2019 ([1]; the values for 2020 are not used in the following version due to the distortion caused by the Corona crisis). The old German government still assumed an almost unchanged electricity demand until mid-2021 of 580 TWh until 2030.

However, the goal of climate neutrality requires a shift toward an electricity-based economy. Electromobility, heat pumps, and electrolysers, for example, are replacing technologies that were previously based on direct and indirect use of fossil fuels. Energy efficiency improvements will not be sufficient to keep overall electricity demand constant. Accordingly, the Ministry of Economics has already revised its forecast of future electricity demand upward in mid-2021. The new federal government now assumes gross electricity consumption of 715 TWh in 2030 [2].

The difference between today's electricity demand and the projected electricity demand is 138 TWh. The updated hydrogen strategy aims to achieve an electrolysis capacity of 10 GW by 2030. Assuming 4,000 full-load hours, this requires 40 TWh of electricity. This alone corresponds to almost 30% of the additional forecast electricity demand compared to 2019.

While the 40 TWh of electricity required to produce 28 TWh of hydrogen (at an average electrolyser efficiency of 70%) represents only 6% of the total projected electricity demand in 2030, it requires all of the electricity produced today from PV plants or 17% of the electricity currently produced from renewables.

This month's figure suggests where the challenges of transitioning to an electricity-based economy lie. The conversion to a small hydrogen-based economy alone entails electricity requirements that are very large. Either hydrogen can only be a supplement on the path to conversion, or enormous efforts in renewable energy development, high import requirements of hydrogen, or the use of blue hydrogen (natural gas-based hydrogen with capture and reuse of CO2) are possible alternatives.

GWS is conducting research on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and in cooperation with the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) on the design of the hydrogen value chain.

[1] Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (2022): Habeck legt Eröffnungsbilanz Klimaschutz vor – „Müssen Geschwindigkeit der Emissionsminderung verdreifachen.“ Press release 11.01.2022. Available online at: https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Pressemitteilungen/2022/01/20220111-habeck-legt-eroffnungsbilanz-klimaschutz-vor.html, accessed 14.01.2022.

[2] Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (2021): Facts and Figures: BMWi energy data.

Other figures can be found here.

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