NRW - Future Energies Region No. 1: Data, Facts and Figures

More energy is converted and used in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) than in any other federal state. A wide range of energy-related expertise has grown out of its long tradition of exploiting natural resources. There is a tight network of research institutions in the region, along with a large number of companies who offer innovative energy products and services aimed at increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energies. NRW is the ideal location for many future-oriented companies - from the extraction of energy raw materials up to the end user of the energy. In the EnergyAgency.NRW, the region has an instrument with a wide variety of competencies at its disposal to continue developing its leading position and achieving its energy-related goals (climate protection, conservation of resources, cost-effectiveness and supply reliability).


General subsidies

In the state's funding programme progres.nrw more than 86,000 individual projects have received assistance to the tune of more than 814 million euros from state and EU funds since the programme was set up.

Share in German power and energy consumption

In 2015 more than 32 per cent of the electricity consumption and around 13 per cent of the total end energy consumption (power, heat, mobility) in Germany was accounted for by renewable energy sources. Wind power ranks in first place when it comes to power generation from renewables, accounting for more than 13 per cent of the gross power generation in Germany. It is followed by biomass (including biological household waste) with around 8 per cent, photovoltaics with about 6 per cent and hydropower with 3 per cent. This means that renewables are again overall the most important energy generator ahead of brown coal at 24 per cent. Then come hard coal at 18 per cent, nuclear energy at 14 per cent and natural gas at 9 per cent. (www.ag-energiebilanzen.de and www.bmwi.de)


According to the figures of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, nationwide in 2014 about 22 billion euros in sales were achieved from with installations and components from the manufacturers of renewable energy technologies producing in Germany. About 19 billion euros were invested, safeguarding approximately 355,000 jobs (of which around 214,000 were accounted for by investments and exports, 69,000 by operation and maintenance and 65,000 by the provision of fuels including vehicle fuels. About 8,000 jobs are assigned in the Ministry statistics to publicly funded research and administration). According to the IWR, there were about 26,000 people employed in plant and system engineering for renewable energy technologies in 2013. They achieved total sales of around 6.6 billion euros. With the other jobs in the maintenance and operation of renewables this federal state accounts for more than 50,000 jobs according to an Environment Ministry study of 2013. (www.energiestatistik-nrw.de; www.umwelt.nrw.dewww.bmu.de)

Foreign trade

Renewable and efficient energy technologies from North Rhine-Westphalia have excellent opportunities on the world markets. This is true for modern and high-efficiency wind turbines and their components, solar energy, biogas installations, fuel cell and storage technologies, modern power plant and grid technology, but also for energy systems in buildings and building management. The aim of the International Relations and Foreign Trade Division is to support the internationalisation of companies from NRW, and in particular of small and medium-sized companies. In order to achieve this, the Division collaborates with many national and international network partners from industry, research and politics.

The Network encompasses almost 1,300 contacts at home and abroad. In addition to organising specialist events and providing contacts, it regularly organises business trips and trade fair involvements. Companies also receive useful information on international energy markets and market penetration opportunities. Furthermore EnergyAgency.NRW provides more than 30 international delegations annually with information on various specialist topics and reviews sample projects.

Mining economy

The "Mining Economy – Smart Mining Global" Network organised by EnergyAgency since 2015 is, with its more than 600 members, focused on the mining supply industry and safeguarding mineral resources. It is sponsored by the North Rhine-Westphalian Economics Ministry and it gives strong backing to NRW companies when opening up new fields of business and international markets. In addition its objective is to promote market-friendly technologies and to help open up other market segments from an impartial position. As well as conducting successful international operations, the Network has launched the first working group on the subject of "Processes and Alliances". It has also integrated the existing mine gas working group in the Mining Economy Network.


In NRW in 2013 biomass was used to generate 10.3 billion kWh or about 80 per cent of the useful heat and 5.9 billion kWh or just under 40 per cent of regenerative power. In the field of agricultural biogas installations there were approximately 622 facilities in service with an installed electrical capacity of approximately 289 MW at the end of 2014. In the different value chains of solid, liquid and gaseous biomass, innovative projects for the more efficient utilisation of raw materials and by-products from agricultural, forestry and waste management sources are emerging in NRW. These are being initiated, moderated and accompanied by the EnergyAgency.NRW. About 1,450 of those operating in the sector participate in the Biomass Network. The Network's homepage and the new Bioenergy Atlas.NRW give comprehensive information on the technologies, contacts and projects in the biomass sector.

Fuel cells and hydrogen

The "Fuel Cell and Hydrogen NRW" Network operates in NRW to support the development of the highly efficient fuel cell technology and the incorporation of hydrogen as a storage media for fluctuating renewable energy sources in the context of the energy turnaround (Energiewende). Up to the end of 2015 the Network provided accompanying support for the initiation of around 120 fuel cell and hydrogen projects in North Rhine-Westphalia. For this purpose the state of NRW and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund – ERDF) have to date made available about 120 million euros, with total investments of more than 200 million euros. The lead project "NRW Hydrogen HyWay", as the climate protection competition "HydrogenHyWay.NRW" will make further funds available in 2016. In addition other projects in NRW were supported with federal funds through the National Innovation Programme (NIP) and the Energy Storage Funding Initiative, as well as through the European FCH JU programme in the context of Horizon 2020. The aim of the project is to reduce the specific costs, to build up a corresponding hydrogen infrastructure and hence to deliberately speed up the market launch of this technology. At the same time demonstration projects which involve users are being funded more extensively. For example, the NIP will be used in the near future to construct an additional six hydrogen filling stations in NRW and to expand the car and bus fleets. It is possible to support investments in a CHP (combined heat and power) system in NRW via the CHP subsidies programme with attractive terms. More than 400 mostly medium-sized companies and research institutes have joined together in the "Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Network NRW". With the Centre for Fuel Cell Technology (ZBT) in Duisburg and the Research Center Jülich (FZJ) the state of NRW also has research and development institutes which enjoy worldwide recognition and respect.

Energy modernization of buildings

Energy-efficient buildings are the future. From the beginning of 2006 to October 2015 about 125,000 loan applications with a volume of about 7.7 billion euros were approved across the region by the reconstruction bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) to finance the energy refurbishment of buildings. A full 400,000 housing units were thus modernised in NRW. In the same period about 110,000 applications were submitted for a grant for the energy refurbishment of buildings involving a financial volume of 140 million euros. In about 250,000 housing units in NRW it was thus possible to implement energy-related refurbishment measures. (www.energieagentur.nrw/modernisierung)


ALTBAUNEU is a joint initiative of municipalities and administrative districts in North Rhine-Westphalia. It supports the participating district bodies in providing advice to their citizens and building owners concerning the appropriate implementation of energy refurbishmetn measures for buildings. Those involved in the ALTBAUNEU project include 20 administrative districts, independent towns and municipalities. These represent more than 40 per cent of the population of North Rhine-Westphalia. The initiative is co-ordinated by EnergyAgency.NRW.

Energy research

As Germany's top energy research region North Rhine-Westphalia can make major contributions to the success of the energy turnaround (Energiewende) with its 120 institutes at 30 higher education locations and 20 extra-university research facilities. But the complexity of the task makes it necessary to combine the competencies available. This is where the cluster EnergyResearch.NRW (CEF.NRW) comes in. It is funded by the North Rhine-Westphalian Science Ministry.

The cluster networks players in the energy research domain over the entire value chain. It aims to ensure that new technological and socio-economic knowledge is applied more speedily than hitherto. For this purpose the cluster initiates research and development projects in a co-ordinated collaboration between research institutions and industry. The cluster's work focuses on the following subjects: centralised energy generation, decentralised energy generation, conversion technologies, energy grids and storage systems, and transformation research. In addition CEF.NRW acts as a transfer point to energy-related activities on the part of the EU and the federal government and to social initiatives.

CEF.NRW is managed by EnergyAgency.NRW and is the contact body for all matters related to energy research in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Power plant technologies

With an installed power plant capacity of approximately 33,500 MW (Power Plants List of the Bundesnetzagentur at 10.11.2015) NRW is the most important power plant location in Germany, if not in Europe. Here 28 per cent of the German power requirement is generated and 24 per cent consumed. Because of the growing proportion of power generation accounted for by renewables, this power plant capacity is only rarely completely on stream, which is why these power plants achieve substantially fewer operating hours than they did a few years ago. Unprofitable power plant units are even occasionally shut down. According to the Bundesnetzagentur around 5,700 MW has been taken off stream since 2011. In addition power plants are increasingly compelled to fulfil the function of compensating for the fluctuating infeed of renewables into the grid; this demands a high degree of flexibility.

Because of the steadily increasing fluctuation in the infeed of renewables and the simultaneous decline in other forms of generation there are frequent grid bottlenecks which have to be eliminated by redispatching measures on the part of the relevant grid operator. The intervention frequency in hours thus rose from 1,588 in 2010 to 8,453 in 2014. In the first half of 2015 5,690 had already been necessary.

At the present time the world's most modern combined cycle power plant is being erected in Düsseldorf with an efficiency level of more than 61 per cent. It is due to go into operation in early 2016. For the first time 300 MW of district heating can be taken from a single power plant unit with only one gas turbine, and this is fed into the district heating network of the utility Stadtwerke Düsseldorf. With simultaneous power and heat generation the combined cycle plant can achieve an overall fuel utilisation of more than 85 per cent. In relation to the average emissions from power generation worldwide, it therefore saves annually emissions of around 700,000 t CO2. RWE has erected in Grevenbroich-Neurath the world's most modern brown-coal-fired units (BoA 2/3). In this project alone, with an investment volume of approximately 2.3 billion euros, about 50 per cent has remained in the region, which is a major contribution to local value creation. Following the "Reference Power Plant NRW" concept, the power plant unit 10 of the Walsum power plant belonging to STEAG GmbH was erected and hard-coal-fired power plants are being constructed worldwide with efficiency rates of up to 46 per cent. This means that it is possible to save 138 g CO2 per kWh as compared with the present average efficiency of 38 per cent. If all hard coal power plants in the world were constructed to this standard, the CO2 emissions would be cut by approximately 30 per cent.

Major synergy effects are being obtained for the industry with the transfer of expertise to solar thermal tower power plants. There roughly 70 per cent conventional boiler technology is used in the power unit. In the German Aerospace Centre in Jülich innovations in this technology are being developed and tried out on a solar thermal trial and demonstration power plant. (www.energieagentur.nrw/kraftwerkstechnik)

Combined heat and power generation

There is a major unexhausted potential in combined heat and power (CHP) generation. Industrial CHP in particular has attained relatively high fuel utilisation ratings and use hours. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia therefore intends to increase the proportion of power generation accounted for by CHP as a central bridging technology to more than 25 per cent by 2020 – in accordance with the federal government´s plans. The aim is to eliminate investment obstacles to the expansion of CHP and to expand and condense the economically exploitable district heating infrastructure.

Initially the state of NRW has given instructions for a study to highlight the economically feasible potentials of CHP in NRW. On this basis a feasibility study is currently being drawn up in which the prospects for district heating supply in the Ruhr region up to 2050 are being examined more closely. The results have shown that in the Ruhr region the largest district heating network in the EU can be created.

In order to implement the programme a directive has been drawn up based on a subsidies system for CHP plants up to 50 kWel. A loan model exists for larger plants. In 2015 it was possible within the state funding programme progres.nrw CHP division to approve 141 individual measures in addition to the projects from the market lauch division. In addition, since November 15th 2014 a new assistance regulation has been in force with the aim of constructing new district heating and district cooling networks and expanding existing ones, including the related distribution and transport facilities for district heating and cooling.

In various projects in NRW research is continuing into the technology and its possible practical applications. In October 2012 the competition "CHP Model Municipalities NRW" was announced and 51 municipalities have participated with their CHP expansion concepts. Six of these concepts were selected by a jury of experts as "CHP Model Municipalities": Bad Laasphe, Iserlohn, Krefeld, Ostbevern/Telgte, Saerbeck and the project group consisting of the towns of Remscheid, Solingen and Wuppertal. Thanks to their model character they will all act as multipliers and thus be of special assistance to the state in the implementation of their respective concepts. The municipalities are being given accompanying support here by the CHP Model Municipalities NRW Coordinating Office (Leitstelle KWK-Modellkommunen NRW) which has been set up by the EnergyAgency.NRW.

Fuels and drives

NRW is not only a significant energy region but also a major region for fuels. Domestic refineries produce about 25% of the crude oil consumed in Germany. The amount consumed by road traffic in NRW is approximately 9 million tonnes of oil annually. This is the equivalent of 20 per cent of national sales in Germany. One possibility for lowering CO2 emissions and protecting the climate is the use of alternative fuels and drives with renewable energy. The biodiesel producers in, among others, Luenen, Neuss and Südlohn belong to Germany's major producers. But at 3 million tonnes in 2014 biodiesel production remained way below the production capacity of 5 million tonnes. Biodiesel consumption is largely accounted for by adding a maximum of 7% biodiesel to mineral diesel and it amounted to 2.3 million tonnes. Bioethanol production was 1.2 million tonnes in Germany in 2014. (www.ufop.de)

Throughout the state NRW has an excellent filling station structure for natural gas and LPG and it is being continuously expanded. In the development of synthetic biofuels NRW plays a major role. For example, promising research and development projects have been launched in NRW in the "power to fuel"; their objective was the storage of surplus energy in fuels with a high energy density.

The percentage of petrol-driven cars (50,3 %) and diesel-driven cars (48,0 %) were around the previous year's level in 2015 according to the motor vehicles licensing authority with a total of 3.2 million new vehicles. The proportion of new vehicles with alternative types of drive was 1.7 per cent, including 33,630 hybrids (of which 11,101 plug-In) and 12,363 electric cars.

NRW's share of licenses was 1815 in the case of electric vehicles (15 per cent) and 7465 in the case of hybrids (22 per cent).

The vehicles on the road at the end of 2014 amounted to 126.702, of which 107,754 were hybrids and 18,948 electric cars. Furthermore this included 494,148 cars running on LPG and 81,423 on natural gas in 2014.

The CO2 emission from cars continued to fall in 2015, on average to 128.8 g/km (previous year 132.8 g/km). (www.kba.de) For electric and hybrid vehicles NRW offers a fit-for-purpose charging infrastructure with 1,276 charging points (BDEW survey as at Sept. 2015).  For the whole of Germany 5,571 charging points were registered.

A portion of these vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, are in use in the Rhine-Ruhr electromobility model region. In these projects, which are funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, approximately 440 vehicles (including cars, commercial vehicles, heavy trucks, hybrid buses and electric scooters) with a total of over 8 million kilometres on the clock are on the road. At the same time about 350 charging points have been installed.

Outside the research projects private and municipal initiatives are providing additional ideas relating to the procurement of electrified vehicles in combination with new business models. Representatives of environmental agencies and climate protection managers of the municipalities regularly exchange views on all electromobility concerns in the inter-municipal working group.

Transport and mobility are important components of the climate protection plan which was adopted by the state parliament on 17.12.2015 and which describes 40 measures. It encompasses the areas of passenger transport, industrial and goods transport, as well as vehicle technology and fuels. (www.umwelt.nrw.de)

The North Rhine-Westphalian environmental economy report for 2015 shows "environmentally friendly mobility" to be the second largest partial market of the environmental economy with about 71,000 employees. It includes, among others, the market segments "environmentally friendly mobility and drive technologies", "environmentally friendly logistics and mobility services" and "infrastructure". This partial market is especially firmly rooted in the Ruhr metropolitan region, Cologne/Bonn and the "Bergisch Tri-city Area". (www.umweltwirtschaft.nrw.de; www.energieagentur.nrw/mobilitaet)


The use of solar energy is a major pillar in the future energy mix and implementation of the energy turnaround (Energiewende). By November 2015 approximately 1.53 million solar power plants had been installed throughout Germany with a total capacity of 39,600 megawatt peak (MWp). With 38,5 billion kWh electricity generated by climate-friendly means this represented about 6 per cent of the electricity generated in Germany. This quantity is sufficient in calculation terms to supply about 10.5 million households for one year with electrical energy. The approximately 230,000 plants installed in NRW had an output of about 4,300 MWp. As compared to the previous year (2014: 220 MWp) the number of new plants added has declined considerably, however, owing to the unfavourable market conditions and was the only approx. 120 MWp.

NRW is therefore, in the national rankings, in third place behind Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. The generation costs for roof-mounted solar power systems are between 12 and 18 cents per kilowatt hour and therefore now below the reference prices for domestic electricity. This means that the internal consumption of solar power is also attractive in economic terms at present. In the open field it has even been possible to produce for 7 to 9 cent per kilowatt hour. The remuneration for open field sites is determined by the invitation to tender by the Bundesnetzagentur (BNA) and for roof-mounted installations greater than 100 kWp direct marketing has been mandatory since the beginning of 2016.

The approximately 10,000 companies in the German photovoltaic industry now employ around 39,000 people. In 2012 this figure was 100,000.

The network "Photovoltaics NRW – Solar Power for North Rhine-Westphalia" organised by the EnergyAgency.NRW provides information on the funding opportunities, projects, events and combination possibilities for photovoltaics. It presents PV suppliers from the region, offers tools such as an online PV calculator, and so creates greater transparency for the interested citizen.

Solar thermal energy

In all, about 2 million solar thermal systems with a panel area of more than 18.5 million square metres and a thermal capacity of approximately 13 gigawatt had been installed in Germany by the end of 2015. (www.bsw-solar.de)

Heat pumps

"The Sun Makes Power, The Pump Makes Heat" – that's the current campaign of the NRW Heat Pump Market Place. Heat pumps save heating costs and protect the environment by utilising renewable environmental heat to a major extent, and they can be combined with a photovoltaic installation. Environmental heat, such as groundwater, geothermal energy or heat from the outside air are supplied by "Mother Nature" absolutely free of charge and can be used anywhere. The fact that it is also possible to provide inexpensive cooling with a heat pump is a further positive argument for many people. This is why around 30 per cent of the new structures in NRW, and also many existing buildings, are now heated using heat pumps. To convince members of the public in our state of the advantages of heat pumps, the NRW Heat Pump Market Place has joined forces with the Initiative Photovoltaics NRW to organise the campaign " The Sun Makes Power, The Pump Makes Heat" with radio advertising and an information tour through large shopping centres. In 7addition to producing brochures and information on funding opportunities, experts from EnergyAgency.NRW and partners are available on the spot. In 2015 around 57,000 new heat pumps were installed in Germany, 11,400 of them in NRW. Of the 670,000 heat pumps installed nationwide, more than 137,000 (approx. 20 per cent) provide environmentally friendly heat in NRW.


The use of hydropower to generate energy is able to make a worldwide contribution to the reduction of climatic problems. But it also supports the decentralised energy turnaround in the regions since, as a constantly available part of the energy mix, it provides an ideal complement to the combination of renewable energy sources and helps ensure grid stability. The technically usable potential of hydropower is estimated in NRW today at 800 GWh/a electricity, of which 200 GWh/a have to date not been exploited, however. NRW ranks fourth among the German states. The office for hydropower at the EnergyAgency.NRW provides information and advice. Against the background of the EC framework water resources directive, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is endeavouring to expand hydropower in a way which does not harm the water ecology, by reactivating and optimising installations and by using hydroelectric technology on existing dam and infrastructural installations. The NRW state government has to date funded 180 plants with a total capacity of around 16 megawatt. The total assistance amounting to 8 million euros has attracted further investments of more than 35 million euros. (www.wasserkraft.nrw.de)

Wind energy

In Germany around 1,368 new onshore wind turbines with a capacity of 3,731 MW were erect and 253 onshore wind turbines with a capacity of 195 MW were demolished in 2015. Offshore 546 wind turbines with a capacity of 2,282 MW were added in the last year. Nationwide this means that by 31.12.2015 about 25,980 onshore wind turbines and 792 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 44,946 MW had been installed. (Source: "Status Windenergieausbau an Land in Deutschland 2015" and "Status des Offshore-Windenergieausbaus in Deutschland", Deutsche WindGuard)

The power generated from wind in 2015 reached about 85.4 billion kWh and the capacity rose as against the previous year by 66 per cent (2014: 51.4 billion kWh). For wind energy December was a record month in two ways: on the one hand it was the highest earning month of all time and on the other wind overtook brown coal for the first time and became the most important energy source in the power mix. (Source: "Windkraft-Journal 01/2016")

In NRW alone more than 3,172 wind turbines with an installed capacity of 4,080 MW were turning as at 31.12.2015. If one considers the installed capacity added, North Rhine-Westphalia shows a substantial increase with a proportion of 11.3 per cent (422 MW) for 2015. This means that NRW is strengthening its position as a wind energy region and ranks in fifth place after Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein in terms of installed wind energy capacity for all the federal states. (Source: "Status Windenergieausbau an Land in Deutschland 2015", Deutsche WindGuard)

The network Wind Energy NRW has more than 1,400 players covering the whole value chain and offers a platform on which specialists, experts and companies can exchange views on specific topics and in the search for solutions. Future key themes are identified and this sector thus receives a major boost. The Wind Energy Network organised and assisted with numerous events in 2015. For example the "Wind Energy" open day at Haus Düsse, the "NRW Wind Energy Day" and the annual conference of the network "WindUpdates NRW". The network is represented with a stand at the "Husum Wind" and the "Hanover Fair".

Small wind turbines: There is still considerable interest in small, decentralised wind turbines for an internal power supply. According to estimates by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) Small Wind about 2,200 small wind turbines were turning in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2015. This represents a slight increase compared to 2014. EnergyAgency.NRW conducted 28 detailed consultations and joined with the educational body BEW in Essen to organise a training event for construction and environmental administration: 'Small wind turbines – a possibility for decentralised energy supply!'. The consultations focused on questions of construction and planning law and questions of special species protection law.

Further information: www.energiestatistik-nrw.de and www.energieatlasnrw.de

Dr. Joachim Frielingsdorf
Leiter Kommunikation und Pressesprecher / Leiter Wissensmanagement
Phone: 0202 2455219

Oliver E. Weckbrodt
Stv. Leiter Kommunikation
Pressesprecher Energieberatung und Weiterbildung

Phone: 0202 2455220

You can contact the EnergyAgency.NRW additionally on weekdays between 8am and 6pm by calling our hotline on: +49 211 - 8371930