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Germany Sectors

What is Germanyʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

Power sector in 2030

Compatibility with 1.5°C pathways require rapid decarbonisation of the power sector. This could be driven by almost doubling the share of renewable energy to 88-89% by 2030, a coal phase-out by 2029 and a gas phase-out by 2036-2040.

Following the amendment of the German Renewable Energy Law in December 2020, in April 2022 Minister for Economy and Climate, Robert Habeck, presented a package of proposals that constitute a significant improvement in the renewable energy framework– with a goal of increasing the share of renewables to 80% by 2030 and close to 100% by 2035.7 The proposed target also takes into consideration the increase in electricity demand driven by electrification of other sectors. Current permitting processes need to be simplified to support implementation of renewable energy projects and achievement of the new target.

Towards a fully decarbonised power sector

1.5°C compatible scenarios indicate that emissions intensity of electricity generation should decrease by at least 67% in comparison to 2017 and the sector be fully decarbonised by 2035. However, any remaining emissions after 2030 are relatively small due to a significant decrease in emissions intensity – by at least 88%. Starting in 2030, almost all electricity could be generated from renewable sources. While their share increases only modestly in the subsequent decades, in absolute terms installed capacity doubles due to increasing electricity demand. In the early 2040s, the power sector, through the use of BECCS, starts contributing negative emissions, with grid emissions intensity reaching 0-20 gCO₂/kWh.

1 BMU. Lesefassung des Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetzes 2021 mit markierten Änderungen zur Fassung von 2019. (2021).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Germany | Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

3 Climate Action Tracker. Germany’s proposed 2030 national target not yet 1.5˚C-compatible. (2021).

4 European Environment Agency. Trends and Projections in Europe 2020. (2020).

5 Agora Energiewende. Publication – Towards a Climate-Neutral Germany by 2045 (2021).

6 Deutscher Bundestag. Kohleausstiegsgesetz. 2020, 202 (2020).

7 Deutscher Bundestag. Gesetz für den Ausbau erneuerbarer Energien (ErneuerbareEnergien-Gesetz – EEG 2021). (2021).

8 Statistisches Bundesamt. Jährliche Erdgasimporte – Statistisches Bundesamt. (2020).

9 AG-Energiebilanzen. Strommix. (2021).

10 Handelsblattt. Ende der Windpark-Förderung: Gigantischer Rückbau der Windenergie. (2020).

11 Tagesschau. Energiewende in Deutschland: Der Windkraftausbau stockt massiv | tagesschau.de. (2021).

12 Umweltbundesamt. Previous year’s estimate of German greenhouse gas emissions for 2020. (2021).

13 European Environment Agency (EEA). Member States’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emission projections. (2021).

14 Eurostat. Complete energy balances. (2022).

15 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Erneuerbare Energien in Zahlen. Umweltbundesamt (UBA) (2022).

16 Agora Energiewende. Die Energiewende im Corona-Jahr: Stand der Dinge 2020. (2021).

17 Eurostat. Complete energy balances. (2020).

19 Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland (SPD), Bündnis 90/Die Grünen & Freien Demokraten (FDP). Mehr Fortschritt wagen – Bündnis für Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit und Nachhaltigkeit. 68 (2021).

20 German Government. Entwurf eines Ersten Gesetzes zur Änderung des Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetzes. (2021).

21 Deutscher Bundestag. Deutscher Bundestag – Bundestag verschärft das Klimaschutzgesetz. (2021).

22 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Treibhausgas-Emissionen. Umweltbundesamt (UBA). (2022).

23 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Energieverbrauch nach Energieträgern und Sektoren. Umweltbundesamt (UBA). (2022).

24 Umweltbundesamt (UBA). Entwicklung des Heizenergieverbrauchs (Brandenburg, 2002-2020). (2020).

25 Immoor, K. Green hydrogen for green steel made in Duisburg: STEAG and thyssenkrupp are planning joint hydrogen project. (2020).

26 thyssenkrupp. Klimastrategie von thyssenkrupp Steel Premium-Flachstahl, weniger von CO2. thyssenkrupp AG. (2021).

27 ACEA. Fuel types of new cars: battery electric 9.1%, hybrid 19.6% and petrol 40.0% market share full-year 2021. ACEA. (2022).

28 ACEA. Interactive map – CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the EU, by country. ACEA. (2021).

29 Climate Analytics. Coal Phase Out Germany / Climate Analytics. (2020).

30 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available, thus we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

31 Benchmarks here provided are derived from the illustrative pathway CEMICS-1.5-CDR8_REMIND_1.7 (28 MtCO₂e) and the 25th percentile (47 MtCO₂e) of the analysis 1.5°C compatible pathways in this analysis, assessed by the IPCC SR1.5. See methodology section for more information.

32 Confirming previous analysis indicating that: “Germany needs to phase coal out of its electricity sector by 2030 to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. This is earlier than the dates discussed so far by the Coal Commission, a body established to come up with a coal exit plan by the end of 2018.”29

33 According to the Carbon Contracts for Difference, investor in low carbon technology (e.g. low carbon steel) receives subsidy that amounts to the different between the cost of producing traditional product and the low carbon alternative. This amount is reduced by what the investor would have to pay in carbon price anyway, e.g. in the framework of the EU ETS.

34 Calculations based on new data from Umweltbundesamt (UBA): www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/klima-energie/treibhausgas-emissionen.

35 This goal reflects the 55% emissions reduction goal. The new goal for the share of renewables is not yet clear.

Germanyʼs power mix

gigawatt

Scaling
Dimension
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020501 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Germanyʼs power sector emissions and carbon intensity

MtCO₂/yr

Unit
−100010020030019902010203020502070
  • Historical emissions
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • 100%RE
  • High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • Low Energy Demand

1.5°C compatible power sector benchmarks

Carbon intensity, renewable generation share, and fossil fuel generation share from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Germany

Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Decarbonised power sector by
Carbon intensity of power
gCO₂/kWh
350
30 to 60
0
−40 to −10
2035 to 2040
Relative to reference year in %
−93 to −83%
−100%
−112 to −104%
Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Year of phase-out
Share of unabated coal
Percent
31
1 to 3
0
0
2029
Share of unabated gas
Percent
15
4 to 6
0
0
2036 to 2040
Share of renewable energy
Percent
41
88 to 89
97
97 to 100
Share of unabated fossil fuel
Percent
47
7 to 9
0
0

Footnotes