12 Aug 2021, 13:25
Kerstine Appunn

Coal power could use up almost half of Germany’s remaining CO2 budget by 2038 – report

Clean Energy Wire

If global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C with a relatively high likelihood, nations may emit no more than 400 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere as of 2020, a new assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated this week. When taking into account its share of the world population (around 1.1%) Germany should emit no more than 4.4 billion tonnes of the greenhouse gas. But according to calculations by think tank Energy Brainpool, commissioned by renewable energy supplier Greenpeace Energy, almost half (45%) of the maximum amount that Germany is allowed to emit will be consumed by coal-fired power generation between 2022 and 2038, if the country sticks to this phase-out date. If coal plants continue to emit until 2038, other sectors will need to show much higher emission reductions for Germany to stay within its budget, the authors warn.
Energy Brainpool makes a range of assumptions on future power needs, renewables expansion and feed-in, the CO2 price, power imports and fuel prices, based on studies and databases. In two alternative scenarios they calculated that a higher carbon price in the energy sector of over 105 euros per tonne CO2 would lead to a higher emission reduction from coal plants, resulting in them using up 39 percent of the CO2 budget instead. On the other hand, if the increase in renewable wind and solar capacity is low and coal-fired stations stay online longer than 2038, they could eat up 74 percent of the emission budget until that year.

The debate about Germany's decision to shut down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 at the latest has intensified throughout the election campaign. Both conservative and centre-left politicians have said that a coal exit will likely happen faster than initially thought, due to the rise in CO2 costs under the European Emission Trading System (EU ETS).

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