Germany Agrees to Phase Out Coal Power



Regional leaders and the German government have agreed on a plan that would see coal-fired power stations phased out of Germany by 2038, involving a compensation payment of around €40-billion, according to the BBC’s reporting.


“The end date for burning brown coal (lignite) - the dirtiest type of coal - could be brought forward to 2035, depending on the progress made,” the report states. The government is currently drafting legislation after making the requisite agreements and has stated that it hopes to get the legislation passed in a few month’s time in the hope that the country will be generating at least 65% of its electricity via renewables by 2030.


According to the report, currently, Germany has around 250,000 residents employed in the renewable energy sectors, a number significantly larger than the number employed in coal-fired energy production.



“Germany will be producing at least 65% of its electricity via renewables by 2030.”



The aforementioned €40-billion payment would be made specifically to four German states: Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg, which have both lignite mines and coal-fired power plants. The compensation would cover new infrastructure projects aimed at transitioning the employment from the coal to renewable sector, as well as retaining workers.


“Mines and utilities will also get compensation for the lost production,” the BBC says. “The compensation for closing coal-fired power stations in western Germany is set at €2.6-billion, and those in the east at €1.75 billion.”


Pundits are warning that the transition could result in shortfalls of electricty to Germany’s grid, considering the government has also made plans to phase out nuclear power within the next two years. As it stands, coal supplies one-third of Germany’s electricity, and more than half of that coal supply consists of lignite; Germany is the world’s largest producer of lignite, but the environmental implications of burning the dirtiest form of coal has forced the government to play its hand.


“Germany has embarked on something really big. I’m sure that we’ll manage this,” Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Finance Minister said, while Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said, “we’re the first country to be finally exiting from nuclear and coal.”


According to the EU’s Eurostat agency, “in 2017, consumption of lignite in Germany was 44% of the total in the EU, followed by Poland (16%), the Czech Republic and Greece (both 10%) and Bulgaria (9%) and Romania (7%).” In 2017, 359-million tonnes of lignite made its way to power plants across Europe, alongside 150-million tonnes of hard coal.

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