German government increased coal reserves

14 June 2022

To counteract future gas supply shortages, the German cabinet has decided on new regulations for the provision of backup power stations that will minimise the use of natural gas in power generation, reports news agency Reuters. In case of an emergency, additional back-up plants can be brought into operation at short notice. For this purpose, already mothballed coal plants will be upgraded. 2.6 GW of coal capacity that was scheduled to be shut down will be transferred into the reserve, which will amount to 9 GW in total.

The government further aims to minimise gas firing in electricity production to ensure that it is only used in industry and for heating in times of shortages. The regulation will apply until the end of March 2024, the point, the government estimates, at which the country will be almost fully independent of Russian gas imports.

In 2021 Germany used 12% of the natural gas supplied for electricity production. Its current coal phase-out plan stipulates that the last plant is shuttered no later than 2038, but the government has already undertaken to strive for an end to coal-fired power production by 2030. Germany has reduced its dependency on Russian gas from around 55 % to around 35% between February and April 2022.

  • Meanwhile Germany, which will host the G7 conference on 26-28 June, is wrestling with the problem of how it can push the climate agenda as the war in Ukraine dominates debate and leads to changes in fossil fuel consumption.

The war is sure to leave its mark on the summit but chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that it must not lead the group of large economies to neglect future crises, such as climate change – a key focus of Germany's G7 presidency. Germany wants to push a "climate club" of ambitious countries as well as partnerships to support emerging and developing nations in their transition away from fossil fuels. However, the war could hamper efforts to exit fossil fuels – or it could turn out to be a catalyst for an even faster transition as many countries race to wean themselves off Russian oil, coal and gas. But not every country can do so easily. Scholz has invited the leaders of India, Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal to join the summit and aims to enlist their support for a tough stance on Russia and a faster energy transition.

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