Germany Lobbies Sweden To Rescue Coal Mines

  • Date: 24/11/14
  • Pilita Clark, David Crouch and Jeevan Vasagar, Financial Times

Berlin’s lobbying of Stockholm to keep coal mines open underlines a view held by some in the German government that coal-fired generation is vital to the security of the country’s power supply.

The scale of Vattenfall's operations in the Lausitz region of eastern Germany...
The scale of Vattenfall’s operations in the Lausitz region of eastern Germany is vast. Pictured here are mining operations at the Jänschwalde opencast coal

Germany has made a dramatic appeal to Sweden to help it out of an energy dilemma that threatens Europe’s biggest economy as it shifts away from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice-chancellor, warned Sweden’s new prime minister Stefan Löfven last month that there would be “serious consequences” for electricity supplies and jobs if Sweden’s state-owned utility Vattenfall ditched plans to expand two coal mines in the northeast of Germany.

The intervention is a clear sign of the challenges Germany faces as it grapples with an ambitious switch to renewable energy – the so-called Energiewende.

Under the policy, Germany aims to derive 80 per cent of its electricity from clean sources by 2050. As part of that, it is closing down all of its nuclear power stations by 2022.

But it is making up the energy shortfall caused by the nuclear phase-out by generating power from coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel. Last year, German electricity production from lignite or brown coal, a particularly polluting form of the fuel, reached its highest level since 1990.

Germany’s heavy reliance on coal has left it struggling to meet its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile high levies on bills to pay for renewable power mean that household energy prices are among the highest in Europe.

Angela Merkel’s cabinet is due to meet next week to discuss mothballing some coal-fired power stations as a means of helping the country reach its carbon goals.

But Berlin’s lobbying of Stockholm underlines a view held by some in the German government that coal-fired generation is vital to the security of the country’s power supply.

Full story

 

Recent Popular Articles


We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. By continuing without changing your cookie settings, we assume you agree to this. Please read our privacy policy to find out more.