Germany is the greatest consumer of electric power in Europe. In 2001, total installed capacity was 113.7 million kW. Total production of electric power in 2000 amounted to 536.2 billion kWh, of which 63% was produced in conventional thermal plants (mainly fueled by hard coal), less than 4% in hydroelectric plants, 30% in nuclear installations, and about 2% from other sources. Primary energy consumption in 1998 was from oil,43.3%; coal, 22.1%; and natural gas, 21.4%; nuclear power accounted for nearly all the rest. In 1999, oil accounted for 41% of energy consumption. As of 2001, there were 19 nuclear plants, and Germany ranked fourth internationally in installed nuclear capacity. In the same year, the German government and its utility companies signed an agreement to gradually phase out nuclear power over the coming decades due to environmental concerns.
Proven natural gas reserves were estimated at 325 billion cu m(11.5 trillion cu ft) in 1999. About one-third of Germany's gas is produced domestically (226 million cu m/8 trillion cu ft in 1999), with the remainder coming from such major foreign suppliers as Russia, the Netherlands, and Norway. In 2000 production began at Germany's first offshore gas field in the North Sea. It is expected to produce 3.3 billion cu m (116 billion cu ft) of gas per day for 16 years. Production of crude oil amounted to 64,000 barrels per day in 2000, down from 71,290 in 1990. Local production is not sufficient to cover consumption, which totaled2.8 million barrels per day in 2000.
Germany has extensive coal reserves (about 73.9 billion tons in1996), and coal accounted for 23% of domestic energy consumption in 1999. Production of hard coal is being reduced due to high costs and a decline in the subsidies formerly provided to this industry. However, Germany remains the world's largest producer of brown coal, or lignite, accounting for about 20% of worldwide lignite production. The lignite industry, which is centered in the eastern part of the country, was drastically changed as a result of unification and the introduction of the strict environmental and safety laws of the pre-1991 FRG. Production fell from 308 million tons in 1991 to 178 million in1999. Total coal production in 1999 was 226 million tons.
During the 1990s, more than 5,000 electricity-generating windmills were installed in Germany, mostly along the North Sea coast, and wind power is expected to supply 3.5% of electricity by 2010.