29 Jul 2022, 12:22
Hannah Naylor

Limited rail capacities could pose hurdle for German coal supply


In an attempt to maintain electricity production whilst gas deliveries continue to tighten, transport capacities in Germany, particularly rail, are struggling to keep up with the demand for fuel alternatives like coal, reports WirtschaftsWoche. Coal reliance is increasing, with old plants to be reactivated, requiring a high number of crucial train deliveries to power plants. Trains are a key means to transport coal, with the Essen-based power producer STEAG alone requiring about 26 coal trains of 2800 tonnes each week to operate its four units in the Saar basin, writes the newspaper. The company has said “without a priority for coal transports by rail, it will probably not be possible to procure sufficient capacities”. The head of the national rail company (Deutsche Bahn) Richard Lutz has said the situation is being closely examined, but expects bottlenecks. He called on cooperation of all parties involved to prevent energy shortages.

Economy minister Robert Habeck’s latest energy security package aims to ensure transport capacities are sufficient for fuel transport. As part of this, there is scope for coal trains to be given priority over passenger trains in the case of limited supplies, however experts have stated it is too soon to know whether such a regulation will be necessary, writes WirtschaftsWoche .

Low river levels across Germany are also currently threatening the supply of shipped materials including coal. Ships have only been able to transport around 50 percent of usual capacities, which comes at a time when demand for coal is particularly high. Gas imports from the Nord Stream 1 remain at low levels amidst Russia’s war against Ukraine, forcing Germany to rethink its sources of energy for power production in the coming months.

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