Green Germany continues its shift away from coal power

It is one of the finest achievements in public relations in history. Germany has managed to be praised by environmentalists more than any other developed nation and yet is building more coal plants than more or less any other developed country. If China is watching on they should take note. The easy way to receive the adulation of Western Greens is to put up a stack of solar panels, and to just keeping building coal plants as before. Just think of the headlines: “China gets 50% of its electricity from solar power.” The green adulation will be remarkable, yet the carbon emissions will keep soaring.

And speaking of 50%, the year to date has not seen a day where solar power has provided more than 50% of Germany’s electricity. A shame for misleading headline writers. Instead, we are greeted with the news that Germany got over 50% of its electricity from coal plants in the first half of 2013. Yes, coal provides 50% of Germany’s electricity for six months, not a couple of hours on a lazy summer weekend. If only Germany’s coal plants functioned like its solar panels.

These are the realities of Green Germany: it gets half of its electricity from the dirtiest power plants, and about 5% from solar panels. How often have these basic facts been given an airing by environmental journalists? Of course you may imagine that Germany is moving away from coal. Again, the facts don’t align with this point of view. This year Germany is opening 5.3 GW of new coal plants, which is more new coal additions than in any year in the last twenty. And there is more to come in the next few years.

I will conclude with another inconvenient fact for admirers of Germany’s Energiewende. This 5.3 GW worth of new coal plants will more or less produce the same amount of electricity as every solar panel in Germany. And unlike solar panels they will last a lot longer than twenty five years.

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3 thoughts on “Green Germany continues its shift away from coal power”

  1. It’s also striking to see that nuclear with 18% contributed as much as wind, solar and hydro combined.

    To be precise, whilst the German bundesnetzagentur did say in February 2013 that there would be 5.3 GW of new coal for 2013, the current update of 27.03.2013 announces instead 4.45 GW (source : http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/DE/Sachgebiete/ElektrizitaetundGas/Unternehmen_Institutionen/Versorgungssicherheit/Erzeugungskapazitaeten/Kraftwerksliste/kraftwerksliste-node.html )

    1. I only noticed now the Platts report from last week confirms the 5.3 GW, despite that number being supposedly wrong since more than 3 month. No idea what’s happening, Platts is one of the best industry source and in theory should be very much up to date.

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