Germany eyes keeping coal plants open longer as backup

This file photo taken on January 23, 2020 shows a plant of German industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp (foreground) and a coal-fired power station in Duisburg, western Germany. — AFP pic
This file photo taken on January 23, 2020 shows a plant of German industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp (foreground) and a coal-fired power station in Duisburg, western Germany. — AFP pic

BERLIN, March 24 — Germany is looking at keeping coal plants open longer in order to ensure energy security, the government said today, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked fears over power deliveries.

Berlin said it will bring down gas usage in power generation by “possibly keeping coal-fired power plants as a security standby for longer”.

Decommissioning the coal plants “can be suspended until further notice”, they added, noting that “ideally” they would still stick to the goal of phasing out coal usage by 2030.

Germany’s coalition of Social Democrats, ecologist Greens and liberal FDP had eyed winding down coal usage in the coming years as it sought to make the country climate-neutral by 2045.

But the energy transition had been dependent on temporarily bumping up gas imports while infrastructure for renewables was being ramped up.

The Ukraine war has however drastically changed its best-laid plans.

With 55 per cent of Germany’s gas imports stemming from Russia, reliance on Russian energy has been exposed as an Achilles’ heel as Western allies scramble to penalise Vladimir Putin for his war on Ukraine.

Germany’s economy minister of the Green party has even been forced to look around the world to purchase coal to bulk up the nation’s energy reserves. 

The pressure has been increasing as calls grow louder for the West to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy imports but Germany has so far been reluctant, citing the potential impact on Europe’s top economy.

Putin on Wednesday upped the ante by demanding payments for gas in rubles, something that Germany has said is a breach of contracts.

With US President Joe Biden joining a series of summits in Brussels today, the subject of energy security is expected to be broached by allies. — AFP