Energy Crisis

Germany again resorts to coal to avert winter power shortages

Neurath-coal-power-plants-RWE

Neurath power plant (photo: RWE)

Published

October 6, 2023

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Published:

October 6, 2023

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The German government has given the green light to restarting several coal-fired power units as part of efforts to avert electricity shortages this winter amid decreased imports of Russian natural gas, news agencies reported. The facilities will operate until March.

The war in Ukraine and the consequent natural gas shortages forced Germany to reactivate some of its coal-fired power plants last winter as well. The country generated about 1.9 GWh of electricity in this way, and then put the plants on stand-by during the summer.

Also last year, a decision was made to dismantle a wind farm in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia in order to expand a nearby open-pit lignite mine run by energy giant RWE.

The decision of European countries to set energy security as the primary goal and resort to coal-fired power generation has been criticized as a defeat of the energy transition and climate action.

Under the latest decision of the government in Berlin, several on-reserve units at three coal-fired power plants operated by energy companies RWE and LEAG will be in operation until March 2024. The power plants in question are RWE’s Niederaussem and Neurath, and LEAG’s Jaenschwalde, according to reports.

Berlin remains committed to phasing out coal by 2030

The government in Berlin also said it will make proposals by summer 2024 on how to offset increased CO2 emissions that the reactivated coal-fired power plants will generate during the winter. It also stressed that it remains committed to phasing out all coal-fired power generation in the country by 2030.

Earlier this year, Germany’s electricity supply was further reduced as the country completed its phase-out of nuclear power plants, taking its last three remaining facilities off the grid. The shutdown spelled the end of the 60-year nuclear era in Germany.

Firing up decommissioned coal power plants threatens decarbonization

Other European countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, have also resorted to coal-fired power generation in a bid to ensure energy security amid the crisis caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The continuing crisis is threatening efforts around the world, including in the Balkan region, to phase out coal and decarbonize energy production.

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