DecarbLau- Mobilising Endogenous Potentials for Structural Change - Decarbonisation in a Lignite Mining Region

Start of Project 02/2019
End of Project 01/2022

Lusatia is a so-called structurally weak region: its growth rate, employment level and per capita productivity are below average in comparison with other German regions. The termination of lignite-fired power generation would thus affect a region that already had to cope with a massive structural break after the german reunification. A proactive structural policy is therefore necessary to prevent the loss of economic potential and to increase the acceptance of the phasing out of lignite-fired power generation.

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Project results

  • With the current coal phase-out plan, employment would be lost by 3,600 in 2030 and 2,700 in 2038. With sufficiently high CO2 prices, it can be faster.
  • There are regions and sectors with a high industrial density, but none with a spatial concentration of an industry (cluster).
  • The support of local companies, municipalities and citizens is crucial for the success and local acceptance of energy transition technologies.
  • The BTU has comparatively fewer regional partners from the business community.
  • The negative impact of demographic change on municipal budgets limits their ability to participate actively in structural change.


Illustration of project results

Subproject 1 dealt with the influence of high carbon prices on the operation and decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in Germany. For this purpose a quantitative power system model was created considering different coal phase-out scenarios. The results show that the coal phase-out reduces lignite capacity by 2.4 GW and hard coal capacity by 8.3 GW on average (between 2022 and 2040). Furthermore, the higher CO2 price reduces lignite capacity by 6.5 GW and hard coal capacity by 8.0 GW on average (between 2022 and 2038).

Main Findings

  • Conditional on the consequences of the Ukraine crisis, coal phase-out is possible well before 2038 if CO2-emission prices remain this high.
  • Due to the ecological structural change, a catch-up development is possible for part of Lusatia (in Brandenburg).
  • Lusatia offers a high energy transition potential - extended by the opencast mining areas.
  • Incentives for cooperation between subregions/municipalities must be created.
  • Innovation policy is a central factor in managing the structural change.


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Nagel, M.; Zundel, S (2021):
Legenden oder Leitbilder? - Ausgewählte Narrative der Lausitz. Schriftenreihe des Fachgebiets Allgemeine VWL mit dem Schwerpunkt Energie- und Umweltökonomik - BTU.

Nagel, M.; Zundel, S. (2021):
Eine Region unter der Lupe Versteckte Wirtschaftspotentiale in der Lausitz. Schriftenreihe des Fachgebiets Allgemeine VWL mit dem Schwerpunkt Energie- und Umweltökonomik - BTU.

Scholz, D., Zundel, S., Müsgens, F. (2019):
Price and Employment Effects triggered by a German Coal Phase-Out – A Discourse Analysis. IEEE Conference Proceedings EEM 2019.

Titze, M. (2020):
Kohleausstieg und Strukturwandel – Zur Wirksamkeit von Regionalpolitik. In: Senius, Kay; Höffken, Wolfgang (Hrsg.). Kohleausstieg und Strukturwandel in Sachsen-Anhalt. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Landesbüro Sachsen-Anhalt. Magdeburg: 36-43.