Options for an early hard coal phase-out in the state of Hesse

On behalf of the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (HMUKLV), Arepo and Prof. Dr. Barbara Praetorius from the Lankwitz Institute for Technology and Environment (LITE) conducted a short study on the options for a quick coal exit in Hesse. The analysis mainly concerned economic and location-related aspects. The focus of the analysis is on the only larger coal-fired power plant block in Hesse, block 5 of the Staudinger power plant in the community of Großkrotzenburg near Hanau.

It shows that the coal phase-out in Hesse is rather uncritical in terms of the economic effects and offers some opportunities for positive structural change. There are several development options available for the location itself, and from a labor market perspective, shutting down the power plant would not be a problem. In the last decade, trade tax revenues lost their importance for the municipal budget of the municipality of Großkrotzenburg. With regard to the security of the power grid, it is to be expected that Staudinger 5 will be transferred to the grid reserve when a shutdown is announced. This would mean that the power plant would continue to be available to ensure the power supply in emergency situations, but would no longer operate on the electricity market.

A greater challenge only arises in relation to the heating networks in Hanau and Großkrotzenburg. The current considerations for replacing coal with natural gas in the heating networks must be carefully checked for their compatibility with the overarching climate policy goals in Hesse and Germany. Gas-fired or combined heat and power plants that enter the grid after 2025 will only have an economic lifespan of 25 years, as it is not to be expected that they will then be operable with hydrogen. It is necessary to think more fundamentally here.

To this end, the study suggests expanding or supplementing the scope of consideration in three dimensions: firstly, the energy efficiency in existing buildings should be included. The building stock has its own goals for climate neutrality, e.g. should be achieved nationwide by 2050. Not later than at the time of a new investment in a heat source, a detailed renovation plan should be put in place for the respective supply area. This enables a dynamic consideration of the heat demand and the associated business cases. Secondly, the design of new generation plants should anticipate modifications to the heating networks. The dimensioning of the heating networks as well as the form (decentralized versus centralized heat generation) and the type (high-temperature versus low or very low-temperature networks) must be considered from a long-term perspective.

Additional information and other activities of the Hessian climate protection plan can be found here.