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Germany could achieve climate neutrality by 2045

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

 Germany could reach climate neutrality by 2045 if the country greatly accelerates its renewable energy and green hydrogen expansion while quickly phasing out its coal use, according to a report by Agora Energiewende, Agora Verkehrswende, and the Climate Neutrality Foundation.

According to a report by three think tanks Agora Energiewende, Agora Verkehrswende, and the Climate Neutrality Foundation, Germany would need renewable energy additions of 30 GW per year to reach climate neutrality 5 years earlier than its initial 2050 target. As a result of following the measures suggested by the think tanks, they believe that Germany would decrease its emissions by one billion tons of CO2. The report was built upon a previous study by them ´Klimaneutrales Deutschland 2050´  describing how climate neutrality in Germany could be reached by the middle of the century. 

“Climate neutrality is a race against time. Evermore frequent extreme weather situations have evolved from a threatening forecast to a depressing reality,” said Climate Neutrality Foundation director Rainer Baake, a former state secretary in the Merkel government.

“The decisive change of course in the United States makes the growing dynamic in climate ambition clear,” he said, adding that Germany could also be faster, but needs the political willingness for that.

It is predicted that climate policy is likely to become one of the core issues in the campaign for general elections in Germany this September. 

How can Germany win this sprint? 

The report assumes that the next government will raise its emission reduction target for 2030 to 65% (from the current 55% ), which is considered to be likely given steeper emission cut goals for the EU as a whole.

In terms of renewable energy expansion, The report sees the greatest potential in solar PV expansion for climate neutrality, and would need to reach a cumulated capacity of 385GW by 2045, up from 54GW currently installed.

Germany’s onshore wind generation capacity according to the report would need to reach 145GW by 2045, compared to a current 55GW, while offshore wind would have to grow almost ten-fold to 70GW, from 7.7GW now.

The report also assumes that hydrogen, and in part biomass, will make industry largely climate-neutral by 2040, and that combustion engine cars will be banned as of 2032. In agriculture, the think-tanks expect a rising demand to continue for meat and milk substitutes.

The report also expects Germany to exit coal and lignite already in 2030, instead of in 2035-38 as Berlin currently targets.

“Climate neutrality 2045 means a renewable energies market of about 30GW per year in Germany alone, a building renovation rate of 1.75% a year, and a rapid ramp-up of hydrogen technology,” said Agora Energiewende director Patrick Graichen, "Yes, that is ambitious. But doable. And above all, it is good for Germany as a location [for companies] and for the climate" he continued.

What has Germany done so far?

The main driver behind Germany's renewable energy reform especially in the wind and solar sectors is its Renewable Energy Act (EEG). The latest amendments to the Act came into force on 1 January 2021 (EEG 2021). A summary of this Act is available here.

Additionally, the German parliament has agreed on higher renewable energy tender volumes for 2022 with plans to expand the targeted 2022 capacity volume by an additional 5.2 GW for wind and solar PV installations.

The decision put forward by Germany's current government last week will give a three-fold boost to the 2022 tender volumes for solar PV capacity, lifting the target from 1.9 GW to 6 GW.  The tender volume for onshore wind capacity will be raised from 2.9 GW to 4 GW, energy minister Peter Altmaier announced at a press conference last week Thursday. 

While the wind industry has welcomed the additional capacity for 2022, not all were in agreement with the solar industry association BSW stating that they were overall disappointed with the solar PV additions stating that it wasn't aggressive enough of a target.



Klimaneutrales Deutschland 2045 (in German)