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“Green” Germany Needs Brown Coal for Another Two Decades

For all of its talk of enacting a clean energy revolution (what it calls its energiewende) and its positioning of itself as a global green leader, Germany is still awfully reliant on coal—and not just any coal, but lignite, a particularly dirty brown variety of the already sooty energy source. Germany mines vast quantities of lignite, but it isn’t still in the coal game purely for the jobs the industry provides many of its citizens. Rather, Berlin needs coal to keep the lights on when renewables can’t cut it, and according to Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, the vaunted eco-leader is going to continue to rely on that filthy fossil fuel until 2040, at the earliest. Reuters reports:

“[German coal power] will on no account be switched off in the next decade – in my opinion not even in the one after that,” Gabriel told an energy conference in Berlin. […]

Germany in June distanced itself from initial proposals to set out a timetable to exit coal-fired power production “well before 2050” as part of a national climate action plan. Now it plans to set up a committee for climate protection and structural change that will deal with how to exit brown coal production while ensuring jobs for the affected regions.

There’s an unmistakable irony to the fact that the country heralded by greens the world over as a shining example of what can happen when policymakers embrace renewables is, in fact, more reliant on coal than it was before the start of this energiewende. This has come about, of course, thanks to Berlin’s decision to phase out its fleet of nuclear reactors. This nuclear abandonment was expedited following the 2011 Fukushima Daichi disaster, despite the fact that Germany faces none of the natural risks that Japan is exposed to (volcanism, major earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.). But green fear mongering won out, and as a result Germany snubbed its one reliable source of zero-carbon baseload power.

And, owing to their intermittent natures, solar and wind energy haven’t been able to make up the difference. Instead, Berlin has had to deepen its dependence on lignite. Going forward, coal is going to continue to play an integral role in Germany’s power mix, a fact so apparent that Czech investors have been beefing up their holdings in the German lignite industry. So much for an eco-friendly energy revolution…

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  • LarryD

    Sad to say, Environmentalists come across as crazy unless you interpret their behavior as virtue-signaling and masked efforts to suppress rivals.

  • Dale Fayda

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

    • johngbarker

      Amazing, is it not how much reality people will deny to protect their ideologies?

      • f1b0nacc1

        Why not when there is very little cost to it. Remember, the people who are doing this are largely insulated from the immediate costs, and thus see no reason not to ‘force’ reality to accommodate their preferences…

      • Dale Fayda

        You ain’t seen nothin’ yet… A look back at the carnage caused by progressivism in the 20th century should go a long way in answering your question. Committed progressives really are deranged – I fail to see any other explanation.

        • Jim__L

          Their consciences are neutralized by the (naive) idea that they’re doing good.

          That explains pretty much all of it.

  • Andrew Allison

    Do we really need to be reminded so often that energiewende has been a disaster for both the German people and the environment?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Well, it beats telecommuting and what a bad guy Trump is….

      • Andrew Allison

        Barely [grin] It seems at times that the blog feels the need to post things and, in the absence of anything better, falls back on recordings.

        • Jim__L

          I deal with student interns in my profession… no matter how many times you say something, there’s always someone new who needs to hear it.

          • Andrew Allison

            Well yes, but the most mindless posts on this blog come from student interns. The question is whether the grownups who participate should be subjected to endless repetition of the same old same old.

          • Jim__L

            Unfortunately, most effective cures for stupid involve some kind of pain or other.

            You have a point though, boring people who know the answer may not be the most just way of distributing that pain. You could look at it as public service, or as honorable efforts to “stoop to build ’em up with worn-out tools”, if it makes you feel any better.

    • LarryD

      As long as our own Greens are not a spent political force, yes.

  • Frank Natoli

    the already sooty energy source
    Apparently the author only reads environmental maniac propaganda sites. Stack scrubbers have removed particulates from coal plants for DECADES.

    • Jim__L

      And “fly ash” is a major source of ore for several important industrial metals, so we don’t have to pull as much out of the ground.

      Our existing system is pretty good for a lot of things.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Germany is being run by Eco-Terrorists, if the Goal was to reduce the Carbon Dioxide creation, they would have focused on Nuclear Power. So this isn’t about “Global Warming”, it’s about the Malthusian Dreams of the insane Eco-Activists of an Earth future without any People.

  • CaliforniaStark

    About 10% of the coal the Germans use is imported from the United States. German carbon emissions actually rose again the last year; while in the United States they continue to fall as coal is replaced by natural gas. When American environmentalists swoon over Germany’s energiewende policies; the should thank American coal miners for helping make it possible.

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