Most readers of BNC know the story — after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the German government announced that Germany would phase out all of its nuclear generation capacity by 2022. In almost the same period, Germany also aims to cut its national greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of 1990 levels (by 2020). Their emissions have already fallen by 22% since 1990, due in part to the reunification of West and East Germany and the subsequent closing down of the most polluting industrial and energy plants. So they have another 18% to go. Given the nuclear policy, can it be done?
According to this study by the Ecologic Institute (published prior to the nuclear shutdown announcement), Germany will have to initiative a range of aggressive measures, focused on energy efficiency, smart metering, car taxation, renewable energy heating systems, etc. etc. This was to make up a ‘gap’ compared to 2009 policies of 70 – 90 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2-e. The gap is now much larger.
Let’s look at the task ahead.
In 2010, 16.9% of Germany’s electricity came from renewable energy sources; nuclear provided 23.3%. The relative share, spread across renewable-based electricity (not final energy), is shown in the figure on the right. The installed renewable capacity was 55.7 GWe, producing 101.7 TWh of electricity, for an all-tech-averaged capacity factor of 20.8%. The aim is for renewables to provide 35% of electricity by 2020.
Nuclear provided 141 TWh of electricity in 2010. If this had come from coal instead (assuming an EI of 1.12 t/MWh), it would have produced about 158 Mt of additional CO2-e. Germany’s total emissions for 2010 were 960 Mt CO2-e, compared to 1230 Mt in 1990. The 2020 target is 740 Mt, with the remaining gap, to fill in the next 9 years, being 220 Mt. If we wipe out consideration of the now-to-be-retired nuclear fleet, that brings the ‘gap’ up to almost 380 Mt CO2-e.
Note that total final energy use in Germany in 2010 was 8,984 PJ, which is 2,495 TWh. So the economy-wide emissions intensity (EI) is 0.385 tCO2-e/MWh. This breaks down to a mix of 34.6% oil, 22.5% coal, 21.7% gas, 11% nuclear, 1.5% wind, 0.8% hydro, 0.9% solar and 7.9% biomass combustion. I calculate, based on standard EI values, that about 40% of Germany’s total 960 Mt CO2-e comes from oil emissions, 39% from coal, 20% from gas and ~1% from other.