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Germany May Need Longer Coal Phase-Out Timeline

open coal mine

The planned closure of all nuclear reactors in Germany by 2022 means that Germany needs to retain half of its coal-fired power generation until 2030 to offset the nuclear phase-out, German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday.

Germany ordered the immediate shutdown of eight of its 17 reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, and plans to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022.

The phasing out of all nuclear power in Germany means that Europe’s largest economy needs to keep half of its coal-fired generation for another decade and possibly extend the deadline for completely phasing out coal, according to Altmaier.

“No other country getting out of coal is also getting out of nuclear power,” S&P Global Platts quoted Altmaier as saying at an energy conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

“The ending of nuclear and the phasing-out of coal should not overwhelm each other,” the minister noted.

Germany’s government has tasked a so-called ‘coal commission’ to come up with a timeline for phasing out coal. Hard coal and lignite combined currently provide around 35 percent of Germany’s power generation. The commission is expected to publish its report between January 25 and February 1, in which it is expected to propose the timetable for when the last coal-fired power plant will close. According to experts quoted by Reuters, the date would be somewhere between 2035 and 2040.

Related: Warning Signs Flash For U.S. Shale

Germany’s manufacturing industry—a powerful industry that is key to the German economy—is warning against an “overhasty exit” from coal, arguing that energy-intensive companies need to keep their competitiveness and that a swift coal phase-out could result in billions of euros in additional power costs.

The UK and Italy—also large European economies—have already set timelines to phase out coal generation, but their timetables are for phasing out coal much sooner—by 2025.

Following the end of a consultation period, the UK government confirmed in October 2017 that it would proceed with action to regulate the closure of unabated coal power generation units in Great Britain by 2025. Italy’s government unveiled in November 2017 a new national energy strategy aiming to phase out coal in electricity generation by 2025, and significantly boost the share of renewables in total energy and electricity consumption.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Ike Bottema on January 23 2019 said:
    Such an obvious solution that it hardly needs mentioning ... except for the fact that the German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier seems blind to it: don't shut down those remaining nukes, you doofus!!

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