Coal [Non]Exit Debacle…Germany’s Coal Burning Could Rise Around 16% By 2030!

Some critics have slammed Germany’s decision to exit coal power by the year 2038. For example the Wall Street Journal here called Germany’s energy policy “the world’s dumbest” (it is).

Yet, we need to remind ourselves that many in Germany had been calling for an exit within 10 years, or even sooner. For political leaders, however, shutting down what today is still Germany’s backbone of power supply so quickly would mean economic and political suicide. So the decision to push everything off to 2038 was yet again the German government punting the ball down the field, and leaving the messy issue to the next generation of leaders.

The government is not taking action; it’s avoiding it.

Keep in mind that a lot can happen between now and 2038. It’s entirely reasonable to expect that other forms of cleaner energy sources will be developed – 20 years is a long time. And climate can change rapidly, as a number of scientists are warning of cooling ahead.

Under the bottom line, it’s comforting that the Germans have given themselves the extra time, especially amid so many claiming that green technology is already available. Obviously it really isn’t.

World Future Council sees more coal burning

Even hardcore green energy groups are realizing they’ve been had and are beginning to voice their dissatisfaction with the new government-set 2038 coal exit target, for example the Hamburg-based, planet-rescuing World Future Council, Because of the deal, it expects coal CO2 emissions to climb by 16%!

What follows is their recent press release (my emphasis added):

Despite capacity reductions, coal-fired power generation and CO2 emissions can increase by up to 16 percent

Hamburg, February 7, 2019 – Dr. Matthias Kroll, Chief Economist of the Hamburg-based World Future Council, has recalculated the effects of the so-called “coal compromise” on the climate, with the result that coal-fired power generation could even increase by 2030 despite capacity reductions. The reason for this is the increase in the base load on the remaining coal-fired power plants due to the nuclear phase-out.

“The improvements suggested in the coal compromise for climate protection on the way to the 1.5°C target are a deceptive package,” says Kroll.  The main criticism of the coal compromise to date has been the very late phase-out date of 2038.

However, the current compromise conceals yet another problem that has been lost in the debate so far: “For climate protection, it is not decisive how much power plant capacity is shut down, but how much electricity generation with coal actually decreases,” Kroll continues. “In the current model, I see a bottom line increase in electricity production from coal of around 16 percent. The situation is similar with CO2 emissions. Germany must take its foot off the brake and significantly push ahead with the expansion of renewable energies, the associated storage systems (‘power to gas’) and the construction of new natural gas power plants. Otherwise CO2 emissions will increase and not decrease.”

Although about 12 GW of the currently existing 42 GW coal-fired power plant are to be shut down by the end of 2022, it has to be expected that the planned remaining 15 GW of lignite and stone coal each will produce more electricity and CO2 emissions than today. The reason for this is the significantly increasing utilisation of the remaining coal-fired power plants, as it must be assumed that they will take over the last 9.5 GW of nuclear base load that will be eliminated.

While coal-fired power plants today are only used very irregularly because they are increasingly being forced out of the grid by wind and photovoltaic power, they can largely run at their maximum load. In terms of figures, this will amount to an increase of up to 16 percent in coal-fired electricity and the associated CO2 emissions compared with 2018. To ensure that the essential phase-out of nuclear power does not lead to a permanent increase in coal-fired power generation, the remaining 30 GW of coal-fired power from 2022 must be further reduced rapidly.

“It is questionable how Germany intends to achieve the 1.5°C target it has contractually agreed to in the Paris Agreement if CO2 emissions from coal-fired power generation are even higher than current levels for another decade, even though the reduction to zero is necessary,” criticises Kroll.

9 responses to “Coal [Non]Exit Debacle…Germany’s Coal Burning Could Rise Around 169 By 2030!”

  1. Sean

    How interesting, the World Future Council has come to the realization that it is squeezing a balloon.

  2. John F. Hultquist

    The government is not taking action; it’s avoiding it.

    No decision is, in itself, a decision. [William James]

    ~ ~ ~ ~
    Assume all authority, regulations, and finance got lined up:
    How long will it take to build a large nuclear power plant?
    If you could start 1 every 6 months, in about 20 years both your CO2 and electrical power issues will go away.
    There is no known current technology that will do the same.

  3. BoyfromTottenham

    Has Dr Kroll taken account of China and India doubling their use of coal over the next decade or two, or is he just complaining about Germany’s?

  4. Don from OZ

    I have been reading and looking at articles on Thorium reactors . Though largely undeveloped the technology seems right to solve many problems and of course non-problems

  5. sasquatch

    Remove one coal-fired generating plant from the grid and see how much is needed elsewhere from other generating sources, others origins. You’re gonna know.
    It can’t possibly be that difficult to find a balance. Find out how much power you need to satisfy the demand. The supply is not limitless. The time is limitless, nothing else.

    One thing about coal, it is stored energy from the sun. Analogous to a battery that remains fully charged until it is used for one reason or another. Heat and light from electricity is better than burning the coal just for heat.

    Coal burns much longer than wood, not as hot though. If you want a hot fire, maple wood is the ticket.

    Fill the firebox with fifteen pounds of coal and you’re good for a full 24 hours. Wood can’t do that.
    You could build a boiler and produce some steam to generate electricity for your own personal benefit, but it seems to me that a central location with a large enough facility that can generate copious amounts of electricity would be better, something that could benefit more than one dwelling.

    Just seems the most logical application of a technology.

    Coal at ground level is prone to catch fire caused by lightning strikes and does burn for years on end. You can’t stop that, good luck in trying, Mother Nature will teach you otherwise.

    Uranium and thorium are both extracted from coal ash. Gotta be some kind of use for those two elements.

    A good scoop with a shovel of rich black dirt is also stored energy from the sun, has some feck, you plant something and the energy in that soil will make it grow. It is energy, nutrients in the soil, nothing else. Some warmth from the sun and the light makes it all happen. It provides results that are efficacious.

    Add carbon dioxide, voila, plants, something to eat. It is amazing.

    Are we advocating the abandonment of using stored energy from the sun in the form of life-sustaining soil that does keep us alive?

    Keep the ground in the ground?

    Not on your life.

    The human brain is susceptible, vulnerable, can be easily convinced, brainwashed, of something that is totally opposite of reality, a Pavlov’s dog in the shape of brain never satiated and yet thinks it is.

    If I ring the bell, I think I am eating, I’m not, really, but it doesn’t matter if I am starving to death, I need to ring the bell one more time, then everything will be ok… until I’m dead.

    You cannot abandon any resource, when you do, it is at your peril.

    Prospecting for gold and silver is a different story, yet ends up about the same. Effort and energy always trump sloth and indolence. lol

    Coal and oil power civilization. With enough propaganda and brainwashing, it is easy to think they can be eliminated and you can still exist. At that point, you are brainwashed, sucked in big time.

    Another Pavlov’s dog.

    A Pavlov’s dog would know better.

    You have been brainwashed enough that you don’t know if you are afoot or horseback.

    Don’t pay attention to any of it, you does you no good whatsoever.

    You need to exist, fossil fuels can and do provide the means necessary.

    You can’t listen to anything else.

  6. Svend Ferdinandsen

    “It is questionable how Germany intends to achieve the 1.5°C target it has contractually agreed to in the Paris Agreement”

    I think Germany needs to suck out all the CO2 that China and India emmits, if they want to achieve this 1,5 degrees target.

  7. Steve

    I just read she is closing ALL coal plants in Germany

  8. Joost

    Apart from time the stupidity of politicians and greenies is also limitless

  9. Analitik

    This is only indirectly related but may be worth an article, Pierre

    German redispatch costs hit record high: The cost of stabilising the German grid reached a new high of €1.4 billion in 2017 as wind supplied record levels of power

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