OSW Report

Germany bids farewell to coal

The next stage of the Energiewende
Cover of the report

The phasing out of coal (Kohleausstieg) is the next stage of Germany’s energy transformation, after nuclear power plant shutdowns. Lignite and hard coal still play an important role in the German energy sector, but are also a significant source of carbon emissions. It will not be possible to reach the country’s climate policy targets without abandoning these resources. This is a major challenge in terms of energy system restructuring on the one hand, and the various, often conflicting political, economic and social interests on the other. Meeting the new, more ambitious climate goals requires the new government to clearly accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy, including the coal phase-out in particular. This report is an attempt to comprehensively address this issue as the new term of the Bundestag is about to start. It presents the role of coal in Germany’s energy sector, the context of the debate on the Kohleausstieg and the significance of a social compromise in the political initiation of this process. It includes an explanation of the coal phase-out mechanism adopted in the Act of 3 July 2020, while the issue of the restructuring of mining regions is also explored. Finally, the consequences of the transformation are set out and the perspectives of its course in the coming years are outlined.