Scenarios for Coal-Exit in Germany—A Model-Based Analysis and Implications in the European Context

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Martin Kittel, Leonard Goeke, Claudia Kemfert, Pao-Yu Oei, Christian von Hirschhausen

In: Energies 13 (2020), 8, Art. 2041, 19 S.


The political discussion to reduce the carbon footprint of Germany’s electricity sector,focusing on coal, is intensifying. In this paper, we develop scenarios for phasing out lignite and hardcoal power plants in Germany prior to the end of their technical lifespan (“coal-exit”). Our analysisbases upon two coal-exit instruments, the retirement of coal generation capacities and the limitingof how much aged coal power plants with high carbon intensity can be used within a year. Resultsshow that phasing out coal in Germany would have a considerable impact on Central Europeanelectricity markets, in terms of decarbonization efforts and electricity trade. An ambitious coal-exitcould avert foreseeable shortcomings in Germany’s climate performance in the short-run and releaseadditional carbon savings, thus compensating for potential shortfalls in other energy-intensive sectorsby 2030. Limited emissions in the range of 27% would be shifted to neighboring countries. However,tremendous positive climate effects on European scale would result, because Germany’s annualemission savings in 2030 would be substantial. Totaling 85 million tons of CO2, the overall netreduction is equivalent to 17.5% of total European emissions in 2030 without retirements of coal-firingpower plants prior to the end of their technical lifespan.

Pao-Yu Oei

Research Associate in the Energy, Transportation, Environment Department

Claudia Kemfert

Head of Department in the Energy, Transportation, Environment Department

Keywords: energy transition; Germany; energiewende; electricity modeling; coal phase-out; energy policy; climate policy
Frei zugängliche Version: (econstor)