Berlin's phase-out of coal

Power stations Reuter West
Power stations Reuter West
Image: Sabine Wenzel

Berlin is the first German federal state to announce that it is phasing out coal in the near future. In accordance with an amendment to the Berlin Energy Turnaround Act in 2017, the Senate of Berlin is working to end energy production from coal by 2030 at the latest. Berlin’s last remaining lignite-fired power plants were already decommissioned in 2017. Therefore, there is no use for this most emission-intensive fuel in Berlin anymore.

As for hard coal, the Senate is working hard to close down all energy production involving this fuel. In 2015, the use of hard coal for energy production was responsible for about 23% of Berlin’s carbon dioxide emissions in respect of primary energy consumption. A feasibility study – conducted jointly by the State of Berlin and the largest hard coal user Vattenfall Wärme Berlin – is investigating in detail the options for phasing out the remaining coal-fired heating plants by 2030 and creating a largely carbon dioxide-free district heating supply. Therefore, natural gas is only considered to be a bridging technology – if efficiently used in cogeneration.

Subject to the study are two combined heat and power stations, Reuter-West as well as HKW Moabit. The results of the study will be available in the second half of 2019. The aim is to develop a concrete roadmap that ensures an environmentally and socially responsible phase-out of fossil fuels while maintaining security of supply. The Senate and Vattenfall will agree on the next steps as soon as the results of the study are launched. With the successful implementation of this roadmap, a decisive step will be taken to facilitate Berlin’s heating transition from a system that is still to a great extent based on fossil fuels.

The study is being conducted by a consortium under the lead of the BET Büro für Energiewirtschaft und technische Planung GmbH. In order to validate the assumptions and results, the Senate and Vattenfall have created an advisory committee. It consists of representatives from civil society, politics and science. The entire process is being made transparent, as the general public is included via events and online information.

The phase-out of coal will lead to a significant reduction not only of carbon dioxide emissions, but also of fine dust, sulphur dioxide or heavy metals and will contribute to better air quality in Berlin in general.