From Blackout News
The press abroad has already ridiculed the German energy transition in the past. The Wall Street Journal previously described German energy policy as “The stupidest energy policy in the world” (Blackout News: 10.12.23). Now the Wall Street Journal is once again following up with the article “Coal keeps Germany’s lights burning” (Wsj: 09.03.23).
Coal, as a saviour of energy supply and resistance to nuclear power. Wall Street Journal makes fun of energy transition.
Coal saves Germany’s energy supply
Germany did itself and Europe a favor by averting an energy shortage this winter, and now we know how they did it: with supposedly bad coal. The published data for 2022 shows the role of coal in electricity generation, which is growing in Germany for the second year in a row.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, coal accounted for a total of 2022.33% of electricity generation in 3, up from 30.2% in 2021. This is partly because coal has made up some of the gap in natural gas, whose share of electricity generation has fallen from 12.6% to 11.4%, as a halt to gas imports from Russia forced Germany to use other fuels. But the resurgence of coal began as early as 2020, before the Ukraine war sparked fears of a gas crisis.
Image: Franzfoto, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
When wind and sun fail: Germany’s use of coal as an alternative
You can blame renewables and the politicians who love them so much. The renewable share of German electricity generation has increased from 42.3% to 46.3% in 2022, which is highlighted in the presentation of the data. But wind and sun don’t work if the wind isn’t blowing or the sky is cloudy. Utilities need cheap and simple alternative energy sources to match supply and demand in an advanced industrial economy. Cheap and simple means coal, which is why the share of coal in German electricity has increased, although the overall share of conventional energy sources has fallen from 57.7% to 53.7%.
Germany’s irony: coal, as the saviour of energy supply and resistance to nuclear power
Another explanation for the resurgence of coal is the political hostility of the Green Left in Germany to nuclear power, whose share of electricity generation fell from 12.6% to 6.4% when three reactors were shut down a year earlier, leaving only three this spring. Germany could tap its shale gas reserves for a cleaner-burning alternative to coal, but that option is also politically toxic. In a hilarious green irony, coal keeps the lights burning.
Berlin still plans to ban coal by 2030. Perhaps politicians in Berlin will catch up before that day what the market already knows: fossil fuels remain indispensable for powering modern economies.
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