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Germany to achieve 95pc GHG cut with renewables

18 Mar 2016 17:22 GMT
Germany to achieve 95pc GHG cut with renewables

Hanover, 18 March (Argus) — Germany will cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 95pc compared with 1990 levels by 2050, environment minister Barbara Hendricks said today.

But there needs to be a "combined approach" by the power, heating and cooling and transportation sectors to achieve the goal, she said.

Linking up the industries through stationary fuel cell and more efficient technologies will enable renewable energy sources to become dominant in sectors other than electricity generation, Hendricks said.

All new cars need to be electric by 2030 if the world is to keep global temperatures below a 2°C rise, according to German think-tank Agora Energiewende's executive director, Patrick Graichen.

Many German lignite-fired power plants are still on line, despite sufficient renewable capacity to close them, he said. Agora Energiewende has renewed its call for Germany to phase out unabated coal-fired power capacity.

Renewable energy's share in the country's overall generation mix rose by as much as 30pc last year, based on preliminary estimates, domestic environment agency UBA said. But power exports climbed to a record high of 50TWh.

The hike contributed to an overall 6mn t of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) rise in GHG emissions to 908mn t CO2e, equivalent to 27.2pc below 1990 levels.

Power sector GHG emissions fell last year and coal-fired power generation declined, despite the permanent closure of the country's largest nuclear plant — utility Eon's 1.3GW Grafenrheinfeld complex — in June.

A gradual phase-out of coal-fired capacity is possible without creating supply bottlenecks, Hendricks said.

Germany's first lignite-fired plant will go off line and be transferred to a reserve next year, an important step change towards an effective low-carbon strategy, she said.

Higher heating demand as a result of colder weather was the main driver of the GHG emissions rise last year, UBA said. Lower temperatures prompted higher natural gas consumption by households and small businesses, contributing to a 4.5mn t CO2e increase in emissions from combustion plants.

The weather still has a major effect on Germany's carbon footprint, Hendricks said. The data highlight the enormous potential of the heating sector, especially through energy efficiency improvements in buildings, she said.

"I have imposed a more efficient use of funds for building refurbishments to improve energy efficiency to this end," she said.

Transport was the second biggest driver of GHG emissions last year, with the sector's emissions climbing by 1.5pc to 163.6mn t CO2e on lower fuel prices and increased freight transport, particularly by road.

Industrial emissions rose by 800,000 t CO2e, or 1.4pc, in 2015, while waste sector emissions fell by 600,000 t CO2e, reflecting improved waste landfill management.

The agriculture industry's GHG emissions increased by 1.3pc to 66.9mn t CO2e. And fertiliser and methane emissions rose because of higher livestock numbers in cattle and sheep farming, the UBA data show.

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