A coal exit in Germany ?
Coal causes 23 000 premature deaths in Europe every year. Germany, Europe’s largest producer, is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020 compared to its 1990’s level. But this country still produces over 40% of its electricity from coal combustion, which remains an essential sector for many regions, such as Ruhr or Lusace.
Thermal plant using coal in Germany (Wikipedia)
Legislation before COP21
A year ago, Germany decided to turn off several of its old coal plants among the most polluting in Europe. This measure is part of the european “energy package” but concerns only 5 coal plants of the 130 in the country.
The initial project including, which was the establishment of a tax on polluting power plants, was buried.
A think-tank report
In January 2016, the German think-tank “Agora Energiewende” offered 11 proposals for a coal exit. It invites stakeholders to find an agreement by the end of the year on three basic principles: establish a termination date of the use for coal, determine a coal exit path, and adopt a legislative framework.
The think-tank proposes to set a trajectory from 2018 to 2040, culminating with an entire coal exit.
In addition, it encourages the government to block the construction of new coal plants and to forbid new mining operations.
The coal exit would lead to higher electricity prices by 2-3 euros per megawatt hour. Agora Energiewende proposes to adopt supporting measures for energy-intensive companies, whose competitiveness is strongly linked to electricity prices.
The Green Party Plan
A year before the next parliamentary elections, Germany’s Green political party has developed a plan to exit coal within 20 years.
The plan begins with a national dialogue on the subject. Then, a parliamentary decision followed by an immediate shutdown of the most polluting power plants. Stopping other coal plants would gradually be carried out through “CO2 credits” : with this system, a certain amount of CO2 emission credits are granted to each plant and once it has used them all, the plant has to shut down.
The influence of the Greens in the social debate is strong, and according to current opinion polls, it comes third (13%) behind the Conservatives and the Social Democrats.
What future German energy mix?
According to a survey published in December 2015, 68% of Germans would like the shutdown of coal plants by 2035.
In 2030, the goal is to have 50% renewable electricity, and 65% by 2040. The rest will be covered by gas power plants of about 40 GW, half of which would be newly built.