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Reduction in Coal Power Generation Could Help Germany Meet Climate Targets

Press Release of November 19, 2014

According to the climate target set by the German government for 2020, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels. However, current projections indicate that this target will only be achieved if further measures are implemented. The power sector has an important role to play here, around 85 percent of its emissions are produced by lignite and hard-coal power plants. A large number of German power stations are already very old and particularly CO2-intensive. Therefore, in the context of the Climate Action Programme 2020 developed by the German government, early closure of lignite and hard coal-fired power plants is being discussed as an effective short-term measure. This appears to be a particularly favorable option due to the current overcapacities, resultant low wholesale prices, and high electricity exports. Scenario calculations for the German power system for 2015 indicate that closing the oldest and most CO2-intensive coal-fired plants could make a substantial contribution to achieving the German government's climate targets. If additional hard-coal power stations with a total capacity of three gigawatts and lignite power stations with a capacity of six gigawatts were to be closed, this would result in a 23-million-ton reduction in CO2 emissions. The shutdown of hard-coal-fired power plants with an overall capacity of around three gigawatts already announced would generate further reductions. At the same time, wholesale prices are on the increase, which makes power generation by flexible gasdriven plants in particular more cost effective. The wholesale price increase would also lead to a reduction in the EEG surcharge.