German electricity was nearly 10 times dirtier than France's in 2016

by Mark Nelson

German electricity was nearly 10 times dirtier than France's in 2016, according to a new Environmental Progress (EP) analysis. 

In 2016, Germany generated 545 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity at an average rate of approximately 560 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh. By contrast, France generated 530 TWh of electricity at an average rate of approximately 58 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh. In terms of carbon emissions from electricity, this means that Germany emitted almost exactly ten times as much as France -- over 300 million metric tonnes.

The analysis is based on German hourly generation data from Franhofer ISE, and French hourly generation data RTE-France, as of February 6, 2017. Conversion of German generation data to Specific Carbon Intensity uses emissions factors of 1150g, 900g, 369 g, and 983 g of CO2 per KWh for lignite (brown coal), hard coal, natural gas, and biomass respectively. Conversion of French generation data to Specific Carbon Intensity Uses RTE-France's emissions factors, which are higher for France's hard coal and gas fleets.

Germany's overall emissions increased in 2016 as a result of the country closing one of its nuclear plants and replacing it with coal and natural gas, an EP analysis last month found.

German emissions would have declined had it not closed a nuclear plant and replaced it with coal and natural gas. 

Not only did new solar and wind not make up for the lost nuclear, the amount of solar and wind electricity produced in 2016 actually decreased from 2015 despite new additions of solar capacity and extensive additions of wind capacity.