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07 Aug 2020, 15:05
Alex Dziadosz

British energy transition cheaper, more effective than Germany’s – op-ed

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The British green energy transition has proven cheaper and more effective than Germany’s because of factors including its use of market mechanisms and its embrace of nuclear power, argues Philip Plickert in an op-ed for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Plickert points out that Britain produced electricity entirely without coal for over four months during the coronavirus lockdown this year—the first time it has produced electricity without coal for such a long period since the late 1800s. The country’s CO2 emissions are down more than 40 percent compared to 1990, beating Germany's reduction achievements —even though coal still contributed 40 percent to the country’s electricity supply as recently as 2012. He credits the rapid reduction to the conservative government’s introduction of a “carbon price floor” seven years ago, which was the “decisive lever” that made coal plants unprofitable and argues that British taxpayers pay far less than Germans because London removed renewable power support payments more quickly. “Peter Altmaier, who was then environment minister, estimated the total cost of the German energy transition at one trillion euros seven years ago. Britain shows that it could be cheaper,” Plickert writes.

Germany is phasing out both coal and nuclear power, with the last nuclear plants to be decommissioned in 2022 and coal plants following significantly later, in 2038. The plan envisions renewables making up 65 percent of power demand by 2030. Germany's Renewable Energy Act (EEG) that fixes remuneration for clean energy installations for 20 years has been seen as crucial for bringing down technology costs globally and its principle has been emulated by many countries around the world, though fierce criticism over its cost to German power users persists.

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