Publications Études de l'Ifri
Opencast coal mine workers
Felix Christian MATTHES

Consequences of the coal phase-out on the electricity production in Germany: a best practice model for Europe? Etudes de l'Ifri, April 2021

2020 marked the beginning of the total phasing out of electricity production based on coal, as well as coal extraction in Germany. Laws implemented in 2020 concluded a governmental process started in 2015, which itself resulted from a prior broader debate on the role of coal in a viable and sustainable energy and economic system.

Given the differences in structures, levels of development and contexts between West and East Germany a differentiated glance is crucial for a better understanding of the chosen path. The forthcoming transformation with which Germany is confronted constitutes a challenge in terms of energy, climate, and social politics at the level of the federal state and the Länder alike. With regard to the importance of the coal industry in the German economy which is exacerbated in the coal regions, the definition of a transition strategy and the availability of means provided by the federal government (or the European Union) to make the transition process succeed are necessary. The way the German coal phase-out has been handled may represent a best practice model for industrial transformation processes in other sectors and other countries which will become unavoidable in view of the compliance with the European Green Deal aiming at climate neutrality by 2050.


Felix Chr. Matthes acts as a Scientific Coordinator for Energy and Climate Policy at the Öko-Institut in Berlin. He has been a member of high-ranking advisory bodies, e.g., for the German Bundestag, the European Union, the Federal Government, as well as the National Council for Hydrogen. His scientific and advisory activity in the past 30 years focusses on the strategies and implementation of energy transition and climate neutrality in Germany, the European Union and at the international stage.



Coal Coal phase-out Energy transition European Union (EU) German domestic politics Green Deal industrial transformation social policy Europe Germany