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Gas consumption in Germany’s production sectors


Federal Network Agency



Should gas becomes scarce in Germany, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) will have to decide which companies will continue to be supplied – and who may need to reduce their consumption in order to balance feed-in and feed-out. Private households and social services such as hospitals or schools should be supplied for as long as possible. However, the so-called less protected areas of German industry – including chemicals, paper production, fertilisers, or steel – will have to reduce or stop their gas supply completely in the event of an acute gas shortage. This is according to instructions from the BNetzA, as stated by the Energy Industry Act (EnWG) and the Energy Security of Supply Act. 

One potential building block among several

On behalf of BNetzA, Prognos produced a study that forms one data point among several possibilities: the client can use this when considering which gas customers need to reduce their consumption in the event of a gas shortage. However, according to the study authors, the prioritisation proposed in the report should not be understood as an “action plan” for the Federal Network Agency. Instead, they recommend the BNetzA draw on further well-founded findings from industry and science to aid their emergency decision making.

Prognos’ results are thus part of a chain of tests that the BNetzA is conducting to ensure they can react as efficiently as possible in the event of an acute gas shortage – just as it is currently doing with the gas safety platform.

Study: Categorisation of various gas customers

In its mandate, the BNetzA wanted to have industry and other large consumers evaluated using scientific criteria to in turn enable them to prioritise them.

Our calculations began with an input-output analysis that shows to what extent different economic sectors are intertwined. We then worked with the categorisation of the various economic sectors based on the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance’s (BBK, see also Q&A) classification:

  • particularly worthy of protection: companies producing goods and services for “critical infrastructure” receive this “protection status,” including energy, nutrition, water supply, and transport
  • less worthy of protection: companies that do not produce “critical infrastructure” goods and services receive this status, including chemicals, plastics, iron/steel, and tobacco

In the next step, we analysed the extent to which products from the areas defined as unprotected are indirectly used as input for subsequent steps, i. e., how much do they contribute to areas considered particularly worthy of protection. For example, fertilisers (not particularly protected) are largely supplied to agriculture (particularly protected). On the basis of this, we determined the degree of significance.

Finally, we examined the substitution possibilities and the degree of complexity. This serves as an indicator of whether certain areas can also obtain their energy from sources other than natural gas, how complex the work steps in the value chain are – and whether these could be outsourced.

What we did not examine within the scope of our study was to what extent the different production areas could be broken down further. We did not subcategorise food manufacturers into producers of ready meals or confectionery (see Q&A).

Gas shortage: The BNetzA weighs up the situation to protect the population

As a result, we assigned criteria to the investigated production areas that allow one of several possible prioritisation options: the degree of significance and substitutability form the potential shutdown sequence. However, the BNetzA should follow up on further test steps, as our categorisation was too broad to enable decision making on a case-by-case basis.

Overall, using an approach based on the above-mentioned criteria in a gas shortage situation, would lead to better results for the population with regard to the supply of essential goods and services than if the BNetzA treated all less protected gas consumers equally. The information we calculated about the direct gas consumption of the various production areas also helps the client to estimate the amount of gas that would be saved in the event of a shutdown.

As federal load distributor the BNetzA has the difficult task of having to decide who should reduce gas or “go off grid.” In order to gain a building block for their consideration, they commissioned Prognos to conduct a study on the gas consumption of Germany’s production sectors. In addition, other criteria – or even those that contradict our results – are used at their own discretion, for example, the consequences that reduced quantities of gas can have for the economy as a whole and for individual companies.


Questions about the study should be addressed to the Federal Network Agency:

E-mail: | Telephone: 0228 14 – 9921

Questions about the order and methodology can be addressed to Prognos AG:

E-mail: | Telephone: +49 30 58 70 89-118

Links und download

Project team: Jakob Ambros, Jens Hobohm (project manager), Sebastian Lübbers, Dr Fabian Muralter, Dr Andreas Sachs

Last update: 16.03.2023

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