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Coal is still playing an important part with phaseout not until 2038, almost two decades from now.

The figures are from 2018-2019:

Coal in Germany

Power generation from coal has long served German industry, and despite Germany's reputation as an ecological role model, the cheap, carbon-intensive fossil fuel is still an important pillar of the country's power supply. Hard coal and lignite have a share of 35.3 percent in German power production (compared to 35.2% from renewables, 11.7% from nuclear and 12.8% from natural gas in 2018). Altogether, the energy sector is responsible for a large share of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions (37 percent).

A phase-out of coal power is at the heart of debates on how Germany can reach its climate targets, particularly after the Ministry for Environment warned in autumn 2017 that the country was falling short of its 2020 emissions reduction target by a wide margin.

But since the beginning of 2021, coal generation is rising again:

Germany 2021: coal generation is rising, but the switch to gas should continue

As news across Europe shows, a combination of factors is seeing coal powered electricity generation on the increase. Simon Göss at cr.hub, writing for Energy Brainpool, takes a close look at what's going on in Germany. The post-pandemic demand bounce-back, low generation from wind due to calm weather, and record high gas prices have made coal more competitive. That's even with rising prices for CO2 and record high prices for coal (caused by supply restrictions due to strikes and weather events in Colombia and Australia). Coal's return is helped by gas prices in the EU tripling since the beginning of the year due to the cold winter and spring, low storage levels, fewer deliveries from Russia and more LNG deliveries going to Asia. But it is unlikely to be a sign of coal's return, says Göss. Coal generation is still below 2019 levels. And the generation costs of hard coal-fired power plants are in most cases still higher than that of modern and efficient gas-fired power plants*. Meanwhile, lignite-fired power plants are still slipping into loss which should mean its replacement either by higher gas generation or higher electricity imports.

*ADDED Friday 24th Sep: Simon Göss explains that as of 24/9/21 gas prices topped 70 EUR/MWh. That means coal is now cheaper than all gas plants in Germany. How long this lasts, only time will tell. The expectation is that once the gas shortage ends and its price drops below 40-50 EUR/MWh and with carbon staying at its current level, the switch from coal to gas will continue.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 09:05:34 PM EST
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