Fridays for Future, phase-out of oil heating, CO2 prices, flight shame, hydrogen, increased promotion of electric cars and cheaper rail travel – climate policy in Germany has not only gained momentum during 2019, it has also caused unease among many final consumers. Whether it will therefore be able to achieve its self-imposed objectives still remains to be seen. For the energy trade, the change is bound to accelerate – with all the opportunities and upheavals that it implies.
Some protest movements would have us believe that imminent human extinction can now only be averted by profound transformation of the economic and social system and with complete and utter austerity. Through such prophecies as well as reference to the self-imposed climate objectives, the street has virtually driven politics ahead and given climate change concepts a major boost.
The fact that this is not the way to arouse the enthusiasm of the majority of citizens for a turnaround in energy policy, or to win elections as an established people’s party has been just as apparent over the past year as the fact that all measures must also be practicable and that against this background, ideological maximum requirements soon shrink to minimum resolutions.
Nevertheless, the energy policy guidelines (keyword: climate package) for the suppliers of fuels and domestic heating oils and hence for the logistics required result in a number of trends that extend far beyond the coming year.
Mineral oil sales
It should take a while before e-mobility has an impact at petrol stations. Out of 47 million cars, around 83,000 pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 341,000 hybrid cars were on the roads in Germany at the beginning of 2019. Up to and including October, they were joined by just under a further 53,000 BEVs and some 190,000 hybrid cars, with the latter mainly being used however, according to experience reports, as petrol-powered vehicles – above all over long distances.
Therefore, according to the working group “Energiebilanzen” (energy audits), diesel and petrol sales remained virtually on a par with 2018 levels during the first three quarters of the current year.
The requirement for aviation fuel even increased by 4 per cent.
The heating market also looked positive: the demand for fuel oil EL increased by nearly a quarter in this area. This means the political debate about oil heating still did not reach the heating market this year. Rather, shifts in order quantities following the low water level in 2018 may have been largely responsible for the ten-year high in heating oil sales in January 2019.
The transportation requirements in the field of mineral oil remained correspondingly high, as evidenced by the stable demand for new tankers.
Pellet and gas
This also applies to special vehicles, such as those for wood pellets. Although comparatively few additional pellet heating systems were built, production volumes of the tiny briquettes nevertheless achieved a new record level during the third quarter of 2019.
The clearly increasing need for liquid gas in the heating market is also noteworthy and calls for corresponding transport capacities.
This trend could continue in the coming years. It remains to be seen how soon and to what extent the German Federal Government’s decisions in terms of energy policy will now become actually noticeable in the market. Sudden changes however are not on the cards and therefore not for the logistics sector either. In the long term, however, demand for mineral oil is likely to decline and the domestic market will be subject to faster changes than, for example, the markets in Southern and Eastern Europe. The export share could therefore gain in importance in the field of tankers and likewise special vehicles for lubricants, pellets, liquid gas or airfield refuelling.