Germany to miss coal phase-out target by eight years

Germany’s energy system is not expected to fully retire coal until the end of 2038 according to new projections. This challenges the coalition government’s commitment to phase-out coal by the end of the decade.

The modelling, from Cornwall Insight’s North West Europe Benchmark Power Curve, casts doubt on Germany’s energy transition targets, with data showing nearly 19GW of coal will still be part of the German energy system by 2030.

In 2021, the coalition German government, made up of the Social Democratic, Green and Free Democrat parties, agreed to phase-out coal from the German energy system by 20301, eight years earlier than the original target set out in the Coal Phase-out Act2.

The government initially intended to transition away from coal through a combination of renewable energy expansion and new gas-fired power plants. These plants, which would eventually switch to hydrogen, aimed to provide up to 25GW of capacity. However, budget constraints have put this strategy on hold, leaving a critical gap in the plan.

The sanctions on Russian gas imports have added to the issues, with Germany needing to refire 8GW of coal and lignite powered plants to compensate for the loss of gas capacity.

Economic concerns have recently seen key figures, including the German Finance Minister, question the feasibility of the 2030 target. Regional leaders have also voiced concerns about a lack of alternative generation sources if coal and lignite are phased out.

Figure 1: Coal phase-out trajectory (2024-2039)3

Source: Cornwall Insight North West Europe’s Benchmark Power Curve

*Full figures in reference 3

Tom Musker, Modelling Manager at Cornwall Insight said:

“Germany’s energy landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation. The need to diversify away from Russian gas, alongside ambitious renewables targets have sparked a fundamental shift in how the nation sources its power.

“Germany is certainly going green, but the question is how fast. The 2030 coal phase-out, once hailed as a bold step, now faces the harsh reality of economic barriers and stalled infrastructure development, casting serious doubt on the country’s ability to hit this target.

“Germany is still making huge strides towards net zero, and we’ve seen substantial expansions in onshore wind and solar. However, many people, including some in government, are realising it is going to take a little longer than expected to transition Germany away from its reliance on coal.”


  1. Germany hits renewable accelerator, targets coal exit by 2030 – Reuters
  2. Act to Reduce and End Coal-Fired Power Generation – International Energy Agency
  3. Coal phase-out trajectory (GW)
YearHard CoalLigniteCumulative

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact: Verity Sinclair at

To link to our website, please use:  

Copyright disclaimer for commercial use of the press releases:

The content of the press release, including but not limited to text, data, images, and graphics, is the sole property of Cornwall Insight and is protected by UK copyright law. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the content in any form for commercial use is prohibited without the prior written consent of Cornwall Insight.

Media Use Exemption:

The information included in this press release may be used by members of the media for news reporting purposes only. Any other commercial use of this information is prohibited without the prior written consent of Cornwall Insight.

All non-media use is prohibited, including redistribution, reproduction, or modification of our content in any form for commercial purposes, and requires prior written consent. Please contact:

About the Cornwall Insight Group

Cornwall Insight is the pre-eminent provider of research, analysis, consulting and training to businesses and stakeholders engaged in the Australian, Great British, and Irish energy markets. To support our customers, we leverage a powerful combination of analytical capability, a detailed appreciation of regulation codes and policy frameworks, and a practical understanding of how markets function.