Primary energy consumption in Germany amounted to around 489 million t SKE (hard coal units) or 14 334 petajoules in 2003, which was much the same figure as for 2002. According to the current DIW Berlin Weekly Report (Wochenbericht 7/2004), the stagnation was the result of various conflicting influences. While consumption was curbed by the weak pace of growth, the cold weather in the first quarter of the year raised the demand for energy. When the figures are adjusted for the effect of the low temperatures, primary energy consumption is seen to have fallen by 1% in 2003 on the previous year. As overall economic performance declined slightly (-0.1%), the temperature-adjusted energy productivity of the economy improved by 0.9% last year. This was a slightly weaker improvement than the long-term average (1991 to 2002: +1.3%).
Unlike primary energy consumption, gross electricity consumption showed a relatively sharp increase of 1.2%. However, overall electricity productivity, which had continued to increase by 0.8% per annum in the 1990s, declined substantially (-1.3%). Gross electricity production in 2003 exceeded the previous year’s figure by 2.7%. Nuclear energy remained the primary source of electricity, with brown coal and hard coal following close behind. The volume of electricity produced in wind power stations expanded sharply once again; approximately over 3% of total electricity was produced using wind energy in 2003.
Oil prices, which had risen sharply in 2002, remained high in 2003. The world market price for crude oil (Brent) was around 4% higher in December 2003 than at the end of 2002. However, the price fluctuated considerably throughout the course of the year.
As the euro exchange rate rose, the higher world market prices had only a weak effect on the German import balance. Crude oil imports were around 10% cheaper in November 2003 than in December 2002, whereas import prices for natural gas remained more or less at the 2002 level. Import prices for hard coal rose, by contrast, to levels around 10% higher in the fourth quarter of 2003 than at the beginning of the year.
The year 2003 was characterised by hefty price fluctuations for electrical energy. Wholesale prices for spot products at the Leipzig stock exchange were 30% higher on annual average than the previous year. On the futures market, electricity prices were a third higher at the end than at the beginning of the year. These developments meant that the substantial price reductions enjoyed by large-scale industrial buyers, especially, since the beginning of liberalisation were largely reversed again.