Graffitti close to the city of Duisburg, Germany: “no more coal in the Pott”, “Pott” means Ruhrpott, the “Ruhr Region”, a former centre of coal mining. Photo: Unukorno/ BY

Climate protection through a coal phase-out

A immediate start to phasing power will help Germany to reach its threatened climate target to reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.

On behalf of Greenpeace Germany, energy analyst Brainpool has outlined a coal phase-out in Germany with the focus on achieving the climate goals while ensuring supply security.

In order to reduce the transition costs it is necessary to drastically increase the implementation of cost-effective technologies on the market such as solar PV and wind power. Germany can reach its threatened climate targets if the federal government quickly starts the gradual exit from coal, which must be complete by the year 2030. The core component is a road map showing which power plant block has to be switched off in which year in order to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 as the federal government has said. “With the 40 per cent goal, the chancellor’s credibility stands and falls in international climate protection,” says Greenpeace climate expert Karsten Smid, who coordinated the study. “Only when coal plants go well planned off the net can the climate targets from Germany be reached.”

Greenpeace summarises the plan as follows: “This study showcases a road map for decarbonisation assuming a coal and lignite phase-out and a share of 80% renewables in the electricity sector by 2030, while also taking into account the effects on the heating sector through combined heat and power from coal. Consequently, a yearly list for the decommissioning of coal and lignite power plants has been originated, allowing for the ecological merit order; already planned decommissions; years of commissioning alongside other individual aspects. Within this decade 17.8 GW of overall 46.6 GW can be decommissioned without harming security of energy supply. A slower rate of decommissioning is being proposed during the nuclear phase-out in the early 2020s to avoid a capacity gap. From 2023 to 2029 the list forecasts yearly decommissions of 3.5 to 5.4 GW of net capacity. An additional 116.7 GW of wind, 115.0 GW of solar and 28.4 GW of gas power plants need to be built by 2030 to ensure supply security during the phase-out (and to supply the surplus electricity consumption of 56 TWh for electric vehicles). This road map leads to 80 percent of renewables in electricity consumption by 2030 assuming a normal hydrologic year. The later Germany executes the coal phase-out the more carbon budget will be used up. If continuing with today’s coal-based electricity production, Germany’s energy sector would use up the respective share of the carbon budget within 12 years. Even the proposed coal phase-out till 2030 results in additional 1.217 Mt CO2 emissions from lignite and 1.157 Mt CO2 emissions from hard coal and other solids between 2015 and 2030. In this scenario the targets defined in the climate protection plan are fulfilled by 2025 as the heating (power) plants must reduce emissions by 175 to 183 Mt CO2 per year in the run up to 2030 in order to reach the target. The scenarios’ results show a yearly decrease of emissions by 88 Mt of CO2 from 2015 to 2020. The monitoring report on energy transition proposes a reduction between 47 to 58 Mt of CO2 in order to reach the 40% reduction goal by 2020. The proposed phase-out makes the achievement of both political goals possible. In addition, electric vehicles run by 80 percent renewables reduce the emissions of the mobility sector. Investments in new renewable capacities and rising commodity prices increase the overall cost of electricity for consumers by approx. 20% compared to the anticipated level in 2020.”

Compiled by Reinhold Pape

The study “Climate protection through coal exit” online:



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