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Integrated assessment of a phase-out of coal-fired power plants in Germany

Heinrichs, Heidi Ursula, Schumann, Diana, Vögele, Stefan, Biß, Klaus Hendrik, Shamon, Hawal, Markewitz, Peter, Többen, Johannes, Gillessen, Bastian, Gotzens, Fabian, Ernst, Anna
Energy 2017 v.126 pp. 285-305
carbon dioxide, coal, economic impact, electricity, electricity generation, financial economics, greenhouse gases, models, politics, power plants, prices, public opinion, surveys, Germany
Germany is liable to miss its greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020. Nonetheless, additional political measures such as an early phase-out of coal-fired power plants might make it possible to reach this target. However, this generates several (conflicting) challenges, which arise from the technical, environmental, economic, and social implications.An integrated assessment of phasing out coal-fired power plants was therefore performed by investigating impacts on the German energy system, the economy, and public perception. The latter is explored by analyzing representative data from our latest annual survey of the German public. Economic impacts on the sectoral level are illustrated by an input-output analysis. Furthermore, an energy systems model examines the long-term technical consequences.Our scenario-based analysis shows that phasing out coal in the German electricity sector is not sufficient to fully meet German emission reduction targets. Additionally, the input-output analysis indicates strong sensitivity with the CO2 certificate price, only resulting in an overall economic benefit in the case of a high certificate price. The survey shows that public acceptance of coal for electricity generation is low and decreasing. By combining all the results, a more detailed analysis was performed of the consequences of an early phase-out of coal-fired power plants.