06 Sep 2021, 14:04
Benjamin Wehrmann

Earlier coal exit hinges on unresolved supply security questions – German industry

dpa / Süddeutsche Zeitung / RND

German industry federation BDI has warned against bringing forward the end date for coal-fired power production from 2038 over concerns it may compromise the country’s power supply security. BDI head Siegfrid Russwurm told news agency dpa in an article carried by Süddeutsche Zeitung that, while compensating coal workers in an earlier exit scenario would be possible, the question of supply security is harder to solve. “The flipside of exiting coal is supply security,” Russwurm said, arguing that the country would need to build new gas-fired power plants to bridge the transition away from coal, especially since all nuclear plants will end operations at the end of next year. “It’s not a good idea to simply rely on nuclear power from France or coal power from Poland and Czechia,” the BDI head said, arguing that Germany faces rising power demand in the coming years that can only be met by “building a considerable amount of gas plants” that could eventually also be fired with green hydrogen. When exactly the last coal plant is shut down should depend on the country’s ability to reliably cover demand during times of “dark doldrums” (Dunkelflaute), aka periods with little to no sunshine or wind for generating renewable power. He called on all parties to find a reliable consensus regarding coal in order to avoid companies “expecting that a new government will scrap sealed decisions every four years.”

The coal exit end date has increasingly come under fire in recent months as election campaigns heat up and worsening climate forecasts, a landmark ruling for climate policy by the constitutional court, and extreme weather events in Germany and around the world make climate change a top issue in public debate. Energy politician Andras Jung of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, which helped broker the 2038 end date, said at the end of last week that he expects coal will drop out of the market due to rising emissions allowance prices in the European trading systems ETS “rather well before 2035 than after,” media group RND reported.

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