Study: How Germany can become climate neutral by 2045


Germany is the first industrial nation to have committed itself to becoming climate neutral by 2045. According to the revised Climate Protection Act, greenhouse gas emissions should gradually increase by around 68 percent compared to 2020 to 118 million tons of CO by 20302-Equivalents are reduced. The federally owned German Energy Agency (dena) has analyzed in a recently published study over the past 17 months how industry, politics and society can cope with the transformation process.

With the help of ten scientific institutes, more than 70 companies and a 45-strong expert advisory board, dena has, according to its own information, examined which technology paths are realistic and which framework conditions are necessary in order to achieve the goal for 2045 in Germany. The focus of the Final report of the lead study “Aim for Climate Neutrality” concrete solutions and CO2– Reduction paths for individual sectors such as construction, transport, industry and power generation.

Using a central scenario “Climate neutrality 100”, the authors want to show how the specifications for the individual areas by 2030 and the net zero, especially for CO2-Emission can be achieved 15 years later. They describe, for example, which energy sources and technologies are required in which quantities, as well as the necessary steps and changes. The researchers show four paths and variants, such as a higher proportion of direct electrical use compared to a higher proportion of gaseous or liquid energy sources.

From a technological point of view, the authors consider a four-pillar strategy to be necessary: ​​All consumption sectors must increase energy efficiency and thus reduce electricity consumption. This applies in particular to industry and the building sector. For the extensive direct use of renewable energies, “broad and significantly accelerated electrification is a basic requirement”. In addition to electricity, renewable gaseous and liquid energy sources such as hydrogen and raw materials would be required.

The energy sector is currently the largest CO2-Issuer. According to the study, reductions must be the strongest and fastest – from 308 million. Tons of CO2-Equivalents in 2018 to 104 million in 2030 and then even to minus 8 million tons in 2045. The central point is that renewable electricity capacities will have to more than double by 2030.

In concrete terms, this means that the installed capacity of solar energy will increase from 45 gigawatts (GW) to 131 GW, and onshore wind energy from 52 GW to 92 GW. The authors believe that coal production will hardly play a role anymore, driven by the market. The use of natural gas in power generation, however, will increase by then. Hydrogen and e-fuels, i.e. synthetic fuels that are produced using electricity from water and carbon dioxide, played only a minor role in the next ten years.

According to the analysis, however, the development of the appropriate infrastructure and markets is essential, since the reconversion of green hydrogen into electricity will become the third most important source of electricity in 2045 after wind power and photovoltaics. Until 2035, the controversial blue hydrogen obtained from fossil natural gas will have at least little importance, which will then gradually be lost.

Industry follows in second place in terms of emissions. Here, emissions must fall by around 36 percent by 2030 alone. After a relative stagnation in the past two decades, an average reduction of around 8 million tons of CO is required by 20302 per year, the experts calculate. Almost 70 percent of the reduction contribution came from energetic emissions.

The biggest changes are needed in the steel and chemical industries. In order to make progress here, a transparent greenhouse gas balance is needed along the value chain, a consistent circular economy, a financial steering effect via the CO2Price as well as the rapid ramp-up of low-emission technologies and production processes. The end of the EEG surcharge is also important.