Germany targets 2038 to phase out coal and nuclear sources from its energy pie.

By Udbhav Bhargava

Germany’s parliament was preparing to pass new legislation finalizing the phase-out of coal as an energy source. Both houses of parliament were to vote on the roadmap that envisions the phase-out of coal between now and 2038. Germany is the first industrialized country that leaves behind both nuclear energy and coal energy.   

The environmental pressure groups do deserve some credit for the change. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations have protested vociferously against the proposal, including by lowering a banner down the Reichstag building door. We claim that the road map of the government does not curb greenhouse gas emissions from Germany quickly enough to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Carbon Emissions and Nuclear Energy – hindrances 

However, Germany has demonstrated low results in relation to more recent European targets for rising carbon emissions. In Germany, the growing share of RES has not been enough to cut carbon emissions.

The share of RES has not been effective to eliminate pollution in Germany due to a decrease in nuclear power alone and the continuous maintenance of high coal-fired electricity products. Another reason is, nearly forty years after the start of the German energy transition, Germany remains the world’s largest lignite (brown coal) producer, with lignite and hard coal supplying nearly 40 per cent of its electricity. These reasons have hampered renewables to have a larger share in the ‘energy pie’. Germany will miss its own 2020 climate target by about 7%, but is determined to cover it up and augment its renewables energy generation.

Positive outcomes of the energy shift

German shift to renewable energy sources originated from bottom-up efforts by individuals and private-owned businesses supporting renewable energy sources. RES share in total power generation rose from 3 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2018. This has generated about 350,000 new jobs and has spread fairly evenly across the world.

Impact of Fukushima nuclear disaster

The nuclear catastrophe of 2011 at Fukushima in Japan resulted in massive anti-atomic power demonstrations across Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced two months after the incident that all the plants would be demolished in the next decade. Germany will be the second nation to shut down all its nuclear power stations after Italy.

Final stretch of the phase-out

Germany has vowed to start decommissioning all of its 17 nuclear power facility by the end of 2022. In December 2019, Operators began shutting down the Philippsburg nuclear power plant in southern Germany. It was the only nuclear plants still operating in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. 2050 and 2038. Germany is planning to become neutral of greenhouse gas by 2050. It has set the tentative target of reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent compared to rates in 1990. Germany wants to phase out coal power by 2038 to attain this goal.

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