Germany’s exports would have been €15bn higher last year if its industry had not paid a premium for electricity compared with international competitors, according to an analysis published on Thursday. Germany’s manufacturing suffered €52bn in net export losses for the six-year period from 2008 to 2013.
Despite Germany’s strong export performance in recent years, Europe’s biggest economy has been dented by the nation’s costly shift to renewable energy, IHS consultants said in a report.
They found that the energy price differential between Germany and its five leading trade partners cost the nation’s manufacturing sector €52bn in net export losses for the six-year period from 2008 to 2013.
The figure was calculated by linking changes in the net volume of German manufacturing exports to changes in energy costs, using an economic model that accounted for other variables such as exchange rates.
Almost 60 per cent of the total loss (or €30bn) came in energy-intensive industries: paper, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, non-metallic mineral products and basic metals.
Smaller companies were disproportionately affected, the analysis found. Unlike heavy energy users such as BASF and ThyssenKrupp, small companies are not eligible for exemptions from the energy bill surcharges that cover the costs of the move to clean energy.
The report also looked at investment decisions and found that direct investment abroad had accelerated over time at the expense of domestic investment. Energy cost was an important driver of this shift, said IHS.