Coal revival cripples Germany’s $130 billion green drive
Germany is likely to miss its 2022 climate targets and greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, as the country’s use of coal continues to increase.
Only last year the share of electricity generated from coal in Europe’s biggest economy hit the highest in 24 years. The country also opened more coal-fired power plants in 2013 than any other time in the past 20 years as it moves towards a target set three years ago, which aims to have all nuclear power stations shut down by 2022.
Germany’s energy revolution —or “Energiewende”— has come at a high price. According to Bloomberg, it has so far added more than $134 billion (100 billion euros) to the power bills of households, shop owners and small factories.
But falling coal prices seem to have wet the government’s appetite for the fossil fuel, to the point that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has recently announced it considers coal-based power plants as “indispensable” for the foreseeable future.
“Despite the massive expansion of renewable energies, achieving key targets for the energy transition and climate protection by 2020 is no longer realistic,” Thomas Vahlenkamp, a director at McKinsey & Co. in Dusseldorf, Germany, told Bloomberg.
“The government needs to improve the Energiewende so that the current disappointment doesn’t lead to permanent failure,” the adviser to the industry added.
German utilities plan to start new hard-coal plants with 5,606 megawatts of capacity this year and next, data from Bonn-based national grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur show. That compares with a target of at least 10,000 megawatts from new solar and wind installations in 2014 and 2015 under Germany’s renewable energy act, which took effect Aug. 1. Solar output reached a record 24,244 megawatts on June 6, according to EEX.
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