It’s getting serious: Germany should become climate neutral by 2050. But this requires considerable efforts, complains a study by environmental think tanks. The expansion of renewable energy would have to triple in the next ten years. Because electricity will then be needed even more than it is today.

In 30 years, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions should be zero net – according to a new study, this requires significantly more green electricity than previously planned and a complete stop for investments in fossil technologies from 2030. “The federal government has decided on climate neutrality in 2050, but it has no plan for it, “criticized the director of the Agora Energiewende think tank, Patrick Graichen.

As Agora Energiewende, Agora Verkehrswende and the Climate Neutrality Foundation have calculated, the addition of wind and solar systems would have to be tripled in the next ten years and the German climate target for 2030 would have to be raised to 65 percent fewer greenhouse gases than in 1990. In addition, the goal must be to achieve a green electricity share of 70 percent instead of 65 percent by 2030. Instead of the previously targeted 10 million electric cars, 14 million should be on the road by then, said Christian Hochfeld, director of Agora Verkehrswende.

In a second step, emissions should then fall by 95 percent by 2050 – whatever greenhouse gases are left over, for example from cement production or agriculture, would have to be extracted from the atmosphere and stored using natural and technical solutions.

Coal phase-out necessary by 2030

The coal phase-out, which is currently planned for 2038 at the latest, should be completed by 2030, the study continues, and the phase-out of oil and gas must follow. This includes the fact that from 2030 fossil technologies – such as classic combustion engines or oil and natural gas heating systems – may still be used, but no longer be sold and installed.

Hydrogen as an energy carrier also plays a major role in the considerations – but not where electricity can be used directly, such as for heating or in road traffic. “Hydrogen is the very expensive champagne of the energy transition,” said Rainer Baake, Director of the Climate Neutrality Foundation.

Electricity-based fuels are needed primarily in air and shipping traffic, but also in steel production and other industries. The authors of the study assume that German electricity demand will be half higher by 2050 than it is today, although the total energy demand will drop by half – because electricity replaces coal, oil and gas as an energy source and a lot of electricity is required for the production of hydrogen is.


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