Data and Tools

EEG-calculator and the “Agorameter” are our flagships, along with many smaller applications and data sets.

To make well-founded decisions on the future development of the power system, Agora Energiewende has sought to create the most reliable data and energy economy models possible and, as far as legally possible, to make these public.  These include our own products such as the Agorameter and the EEG-calculator, as well as Excel tools and data sets developed in the course of our studies. Our sources, data and calculation methods are presented as transparently as possible.

For example, more than 1.5 million large and small plants produce and supply power to the network. At the same time, millions of consumers draw power from the network. This complex system can only be thoroughly understood when data is available in a highly aggregated form.

The goals of the Energiewende are measured by how much electricity usage is covered by renewable energies. The progress and success of the Energiewende therefore depends on the extent to which the power system reaches these goals – a question that also is closely related to accessible data.

The same goes for the costs of the Energiewende. This depends, among other things, on which production technologies are used and on a variety of scenarios. The EEG-calculator is a tool anyone can use to calculate these costs and easily develop their own scenarios.

In addition, for many of our studies, we make the models and data they are based on available to the public – for example, costs related to production technologies.

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Core results

  1. 1

    Synthetic fuels will play an important role in decarbonising the chemicals sector, the industrial sector, and parts of the transport sector.

    Synthetic fuel production technologies can be used to manufacture chemical precursors, produce high-temperature process heat, as well as to power air, sea and possibly road transport. Because synthetic fuels are more expensive than the direct use of electricity, their eventual importance in other sectors is still uncertain.

  2. 2

    To be economically efficient, power-to-gas and power-to-liquid facilities require inexpensive renewable electricity and high full load hours. Excess renewable power will not be enough to cover the power demands of synthetic fuel production.

    Instead, renewable power plants must be built explicity for the purpose of producing synthetic fuels, either in Germany (i.e. as offshore wind) or in North Africa and the Middle East (i.e. as onshore wind and/or PV). The development of synthetic fuel plants in oil- and gas-exporting countries would provide those nations with a post-fossil business model.

  3. 3

    In the beginning, synthetic methane and oil will cost between 20 and 30 cents per kilowatt hour in Europe. Costs can fall to 10 cents per kilowatt hour by 2050 if global Power-to-Gas (PtG) and Power-­to-Liquid (PtL) capacity reaches around 100 gigawatts.

    The aimed-for cost reductions require considerable, early and continuous investments in electrolysers and CO2 absorbers. Without political intervention or high CO2 pricing, however, this is unlikely, because the cost of producing synthetic fuels will remain greater than the cost of extracting conventional fossil fuels.

  4. 4

    We need a political consensus on the future of oil and gas that commits to the phase-out of fossil fuels, prioritises efficient replacement technologies, introduces sustainability regulations, and creates incentives for synthetic fuel production.

    Electricity-based fuels are not an alternative to fossil fuels but they can supplement technologies with lower conversion losses, such as electric vehicles and heat pumps. Application-specific adoption targets and binding sustainability regulations can help to ensure that PtG and PtL fuels benefit the climate while also providing a reliable foundation for long-term planning.

  1. 1

    Total electricity generation increased by five per cent in 2016, or by about 300 TWh.

    At 65 per cent, coal provides the largest share of total generated electricity. Renewables account for 25 per cent. Consumption increased by 283 TWh, comparable to the entire consumption of Spain.

  2. 2

    However, there is a clear trend towards renewable energy.

    Since 2010, the share of renewables in the power mix has increased by 8 percentage points, while coal has decreased by 11 percentage points.

  3. 3

    Curtailment of renewable energy is high, averaging 17 per cent.

    Some provinces, like Gansu and Xinjiang, plan to slow down wind capacity expansion in the coming years. Furthermore, the government is encouraging expansion of the transmission grid.

  4. 4

    Use of conventional power plants is decreasing.

    Full load hours for coal plants decreased from more than 5,000 hours in 2013 to 4,165 hours in 2016, and energy-related emissions have stagnated at 2013 levels. However, the government is reviewing its plans for new coal plants, and another 200 GW of coal-fired power plants are under construction and are expected to go online by 2020.

  1. 1

    Solar photovoltaics is already today a low-cost renewable energy technology.

    Cost of power from large scale photovoltaic installations in Germany fell from over 40 ct/kWh in 2005 to 9ct/kWh in 2014. Even lower prices have been reported in sunnier regions of the world, since a major share of cost components is traded on global markets.

  2. 2

    Solar power will soon be the cheapest form of electricity in many regions of the world.

    Even in conservative scenarios and assuming no major technological breakthroughs, an end to cost reduction is not in sight. Depending on annual sunshine, power cost of 4-6 ct/kWh are expected by 2025, reaching 2-4 ct/kWh by 2050 (conservative estimate).

  3. 3

    Financial and regulatory environments will be key to reducing cost in the future.

    Cost of hardware sourced from global markets will decrease irrespective of local conditions. However, inadequate regulatory regimes may increase cost of power by up to 50 percent through higher cost of finance. This may even overcompensate the effect of better local solar resources.

  4. 4

    Most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems.

    Based on outdated cost estimates, most scenarios modeling future domestic, regional or global power systems foresee only a small contribution of solar power. The results of our analysis indicate that a fundamental review of cost-optimal power system pathways is necessary.

  1. 1

    Wholesale spot power prices are on the decline in many parts of Europe, and are lowest in Germany and Central Eastern Europe (especially in Poland and the Czech Republic). Meanwhile, prices have been rising in the US.

    Since 2011, spot prices have been decreasing in Europe, except for in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. While spot prices in Germany were higher than in the US during 2010-2012, in 2013 they fell below the New York ISO prices, and converged with those of other US regions. In many other European markets, the gap with US prices remains significant.

  2. 2

    Wholesale market prices can serve as a starting point for comparing the energy costs of European industries, especially energy-intensive industries. Nevertheless, this approach has inherent limitations:

    (1) Wholesale prices don’t necessarilyaccurately reflect the “energy component” of prices paid by end users, due to differences in purchasing strategies, longtermcontracts and potential price regulation; (2) Several additional components must be taken into account as well (gridtariffs, renewable levies and other taxes), from which industrial actors may receive partial or full exemptions.

  3. 3

    While numerous European companies have complained of market distortion due to regulatory favouritism for Germany’s energy-intensive industries,...

    ...caution must be exercised when attempting to directly compare industrial end-use pricesbetween countries and sectors. Against the backdrop of decreasing wholesale prices and increasing exemptionsfor energy-intensive consumers in Germany, several EU member states have argued that domestic regulations inGermany create market distortions that unduly favour German firms. Because firms in different regions and sectorsvary considerably in the extent to which they pay wholesale market prices and/or receive tax exemptions and levyreductions, comparing prices between sectors and countries is a difficult task. The heterogeneity of the situation is notfully and transparently captured by European statistics.

  1. 1

    New wind and solar can provide carbon-free power at up to 50 percent lower generation costs than new nuclear and Carbon Capture and Storage.

    This is the result of a conservative comparison of current feed-in tari­s in Germany with the agreed strike price for new nuclear in the UK (Hinkley Point C) and current cost estimates for CCS, neglecting future technology cost reductions in any of the four technologies.

  2. 2

    A reliable power system based on wind, solar and gas backup is 20 percent cheaper than a system of new nuclear power plants combined with gas.

    A meaningful comparison of the costs of di­erent energy technologies should take into account the need for backup capacities and peak load plants. Such a comparison shows that while additional costs arise for backup gas capacity in a system based on wind and solar PV, these costs are small compared to the higher power generation cost of nuclear.

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