Environment

Germany Switches to Coal to Replace Russian Gas

Published on: 20 June 2022 05:40 PM
by KnowESG

According to the country's economy minister, Germany will burn more coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, amid fears of power shortages caused by a Russian supply cut.

Robert Habeck said Germany must limit its consumption of gas to generate electricity, following the announcement by Russian oil firm Gazprom that it would reduce supply via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, ostensibly for technical reasons.

Habeck, from the environmentalist Green party, said, "The situation forces the government to burn more coal, which emits twice as much climate heating carbon dioxide as gas, for a "transitional period". That's bitter, but it's simply necessary for this situation to lower gas usage."

The government is also proposing incentives to businesses to reduce gas consumption, to divert excess fuel to fill storage facilities ahead of next winter - the "top priority."

Germany, along with many other European Union countries and the United Kingdom, has become increasingly reliant on imported gas in recent decades as a cleaner – albeit still polluting – alternative to coal.

In reaction to Russia's war in Ukraine, many of these countries have indicated that they will burn more coal to reduce financial flows to Moscow and improve energy security.

Despite encouraging other countries last year to "consign coal to history," the United Kingdom has extended the life of a coal plant to ensure energy security.

"Countries are making hard, urgent decisions in an emergency situation," said Dave Jones from climate think tank Ember.

"Going forward, governments have to focus on how to reduce gas demand," he said.

So far, their solution has been to double down on installing wind and solar to generate power, but he noted that they would require "rapid action for all sectors that use gas," such as heavy industries and heating.

Increased coal use, according to Mohamed Adow, founder of the climate think tank Power Shift Africa, is a "devastating blow" to those on the frontlines of the climate catastrophe.

Because rich, historic polluters like Germany have not yet built enough wind and solar, it is the "climate-vulnerable that will suffer the consequences as Germany turns to coal," Mr Adow added.

Germany, a long-time substantial user of Russian gas, began reducing imports following the current invasion of Ukraine. Its climate goal of eliminating coal by 2030 remains unchanged, as does its strategy of closing down its three existing nuclear power facilities by 2023.

Berlin also intends to increase its renewable energy generation, which is already among the most ambitious in the world, as well as boost gas storage and energy-saving measures.

However, Germany believes that Russian gas will be necessary for some time until alternate energy supplies, such as LNG carried in by ship, become accessible.

Source: Sky News

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