The German Energiewende and its Climate Paradox

An Analysis of Power Sector Trends for Renewables, Coal, Gas, Nuclear Power and CO2 Emissions, 2010 – 2030

  • Analysis
An Analysis of Power Sector Trends for Renewables, Coal, Gas, Nuclear Power and CO2 Emissions, 2010 – 2030

Deutschland erlebte von 2011 bis 2013 das „Energiewende-Paradox“: Steigende Treibhausgas-Emissionen trotz steigender Anteile Erneuerbarer Energien. Hintergrund sind zwei Trends. Innerhalb des Stromsektors wird zwar die wegfallende Stromerzeugung der Kernkraft nach Fukushima durch den Ausbau der Erneuerbaren Energien überkompensiert, zudem sank der Stromverbrauch. Gleichzeitig aber verdrängen Braun- und Steinkohle-Kraftwerke am Strommarkt die CO2-ärmeren Gaskraftwerke, und die Stromexporte steigen. Der Trend zur Kohle wurde bestimmt durch den Preisverfall im europäischen CO2-Emissionshandel bei gleichzeitig hohen Gas- und fallenden Steinkohlepreisen. Zur Erreichung der Klimaschutzziele ist eine Energiewende bei Wärme und Verkehr sowie ein nationaler „Kohle-Konsens“ nötig.

Project management

Core results

  1. 1

    Germany is currently facing an Energiewende paradox: Despite an increasing share of renewable energy sources, its greenhouse gas emissions are rising.

    The reason for this paradox is not to be found in thedecision to phase out nuclear power – the decrease of nuclear generation is fully offset by an increasedgeneration from renewables. Rather, the paradox is caused by a fuel switch from gas to coal.

  2. 2

    Due to current market conditions, German coal-fired power plants are pushing gas plants out of the market – both within Germany and in neighbouring countries.

    Since 2010, coal and CO2 prices have decreased, whilegas prices have increased. Accordingly, Germany’s coal-fired power plants (both new and old) are able to produceat lower costs than gas-fired power plants in Germany and in the neighbouring electricity markets thatare coupled with the German market. This has yielded record export levels and rising emissions in Germany.

  3. 3

    If Germany is to reach its Energiewende targets, the share of coal in the German power sector has to decrease drastically – from 45 percent today to 19 percent in 2030.

    Sharp decreases in generation fromlignite and hard coal of 62 and 80 percent, respectively, are expected in the next 15 years while theshare of gas in electricity generation will have to increase from 11 to 22 percent. This goes in line with thegovernments’ renewables and climate targets for 2030.

  4. 4

    Germany needs a coherent strategy to transform its coal sector.

    Such a strategy – call it a coal consensus –would bring power producers, labour unions, the government and environmental groups together in findingways to manage the transformation.

Bibliographical Data

  • Authors

    Patrick Graichen, Christian Redl

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