Coal-fired power plants as saviors in the crisis?

Coal-fired power plants as saviors in the crisis?

The federal government wants to ensure by law that coal-fired power plants can be used more frequently. Die Ampel actually wanted to accelerate the phase-out of coal.

SPD faction deputy Matthias Miersch was a member of the so-called coal commission four years ago. They agreed to phase out coal by 2038. And in the coalition agreement the SPD, Greens and FDP stipulated a good six months ago that the phase-out of coal should ideally be completed by 2030.

But now there is war in Ukraine, there is a risk of energy shortages – and the traffic light coalition is now preparing to use coal-fired power plants more intensively again. “It hurts me a lot because I still wish for a different exit path,” says Miersch.

Heat generation and industrial processes

The so-called law on the provision of replacement power plants is intended to enable the federal government to increasingly rely on coal again, at least temporarily. For example, if Russia stops supplying gas altogether, the federal government could allow power plant operators to start up coal-fired piles that are actually already in reserve and should be shut down.

Where does the coal come from?

Michael Vassiliadis, head of the IG mining, chemical and energy union, points out that reserve power plants cannot be restarted without further ado – if only because the power plant operators would first have to procure coal. And to bring power plants in reserve back onto the market, above all, people are needed to do it, says Vassiliadis. “And we’ve only just dismantled them. Well, we have to get some of them back and reactivate them.” Union boss Vassiliadis was also on the coal commission. From his point of view, the plans for the energy transition have always been sewn on edge. Now things are getting serious and it shows how important a secure energy supply is. SPD parliamentary group leader Miersch therefore now considers the expansion of renewables to be all the more urgent. The coalition will drive this forward – because a central goal remains the rapid exit from coal. “I am sure that we have the firm will in this coalition to promote renewables as much as possible. At the same time, I see good opportunities for us to return to the coal phase-out path very quickly.”