Lower CO2 emissions from energy generation

Lower CO2 emissions from energy generation

By 2030, the energy industry is to reduce its CO2 emissions to 175 million tonnes. This is a drop of around 63 percent compared with annual emissions of 466 million tonnes in 1990. In order to achieve this target, the Federal Government is supporting the expansion of renewable energy sources and improvement of energy efficiency. At the same time, the proportion of German energy consumption attributable to climate-damaging energy sources is to be further reduced.

The energy industry is the sector producing the most greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. Further efforts are needed to make energy generation more climate-friendly. All measures towards the creation of a climate-neutral energy industry must be both economically and socially balanced and security of the supply must be guaranteed at all times.

Coal-fired power stations to be decommissioned by 2038 at the latest

It is important to put an end to coal-fired electricity generation and replace it with renewable energy sources in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the Federal Government has decided to phase out coal-fired power generation. The legislative package on phasing out coal power and the Structural Reinforcement Act for Mining Regions (Strukturstärkungsgesetz Kohleregionen), which is to strengthen the economic structure of the affected regions in parallel to the phase-out, entered into force on 14 August 2020.

According to the Coal Phase-out Act (Kohleausstiegsgesetz), output from hard coal-fired and lignite-fired power stations will drop to 15 gigawatts each by 2022. Further reductions to eight gigawatts output for hard coal-fired power stations and nine gigawatts output for the lignite-fired power stations are scheduled by 2030. The last coal-fired power station in Germany is set to be decommissioned by 2038 at the latest.

Phasing out coal will considerably reduce Germany's share of CO2 emissions. It should result in CO2 emissions dropping gradually to around 90 million tonnes by 2030. Compared with greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, a complete phase-out would cut greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by a quarter in total.

65 percent of electricity from renewable energies

In future, renewable energy sources are to replace fossil fuels like coal in electricity generation. The target is for renewable energies to make up 65 percent of gross electricity consumption in 2030. In 2019, over 40 percent of the electricity mix was already generated by wind, sun, water or biomass. The draft amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG), which was adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 23 September 2020, also includes the target of making all electricity generation in Germany greenhouse gas-neutral before 2050. 

Expansion of wind power – offshore and onshore

At over 51 percent, offshore and onshore wind energy produces the largest proportion of renewable electricity. The nominal output of onshore wind power is currently around 54 gigawatts – the Federal Government wants this to increase to 71 gigawatts by 2030.

For this purpose, the Federal Government aims to create more acceptance of expansion in particular areas and once again spur on the expansion of wind power. For example, in future, wind turbines will only flash red at night in exceptional cases so that they are less of a disturbance to local residents. In addition, the federal states are now able to introduce their own distance regulations for wind turbines in order to boost acceptance. The draft amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG) will also enable wind farm operators to make voluntary payments to local authorities, likewise to promote more local acceptance. With its Infrastrukturbeschleunigungsgesetz (Infrastructure Acceleration Act), the Federal Government has also agreed the first measures to simplify the planning and approval processes for wind power plants.

The Federal Government also plans to significantly increase the installed output of offshore wind turbines. It was around 6.4 gigawatts in 2019.

The draft amendment of Offshore Wind Energy Act (Windenergie-auf-See-Gesetz) stipulates an increase in the expansion target to 20 gigawatts output by 2030 and 40 gigawatts output by 2040.

More electricity from solar energy

Alongside expanding wind turbines, the Federal Government is also pushing forward energy generation from solar power systems. The goal here is for photovoltaic technology to contribute to a climate-friendly energy mix with an installed output of 100 gigawatts by 2030. For this reason, the Federal Government is promoting the unlimited expansion of solar installations. The 52 gigawatt expansion cap has been lifted.

The draft amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG) will reinforce self-supply and funding for landlord-to-tenant electricity. Additional potential is also to be accessed through the introduction of independent tenders for large rooftop installations.

Modern combined heat and power (CHP)

In future, modern CHP installations will replace coal-fired CHP power plants. The Federal Government is supporting the coal power phase-out with its recent amendment of the Combined Heat and Power Generation Act (Kraft-Wärme-Kopplungsgesetz, KWKG). CHP plants must adapt to an electricity market increasingly characterised by the volatile feed-in of renewable energies. For this reason, in future, plants must be more flexible in reacting to market signals. In addition, CHP plants can only contribute to climate protection if they work with fewer and fewer fossil fuels. These two objectives, flexibilisation and decarbonisation, are the guiding principles of the amended Combined Heat and Power Generation Act (Kraft-Wärme-Kopplungsgesetz, KWKG), which has been extended to the end of 2029.

Using energy more efficiently

Those who use less energy cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions under otherwise identical conditions. The Federal Government has set itself the target of improving energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy. With its Energy Efficiency Strategy 2050 (Energieeffizienzstrategie 2050), adopted at the end of 2019, the Federal Government sets out its first target for reducing primary energy use by 2030. Energy efficiency and reduced consumption, i.e. using energy sparingly and with the best possible technology, are necessary for the success of the energy transition and to achieve the targets of the Climate Action Programme 2030 and the Federal Government's Climate Change Act (Klimaschutzgesetz).