Germany and Japan reverting to coal

Disheartening news:

America’s gas boom has prompted its coal miners to seek new export markets, sending prices plunging on world markets. So long as consumers do not pay for coal’s horrible side-effects, that makes it irresistibly cheap. In Germany power from coal now costs half the price of watts from a gas-fired power station. It is a paradox that coal is booming in a country that in other respects is the greenest in Europe. Its production of power from cheap, dirty brown coal (lignite) is now at 162 billion kilowatt hours, the highest since the days of the decrepit East Germany.

Japan, too, is turning to coal in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. On April 11th the government approved a new energy plan entrenching its role as a long-term electricity source.

The article also notes how costly coal with carbon capture and storage is, with a $5.2 billion power plant in Mississippi costing nearly seven times as much as a gas plant with equivalent output.

This entry was posted in Economics, Power plants on by .

About Milan

Originally from Vancouver, Milan Ilnyckyj is a graduate of the University of British Columbia (B.A. International Relations and Political Science) and the University of Oxford (M.Phil International Relations). He now works in Ottawa.

6 thoughts on “Germany and Japan reverting to coal

  1. .

    A government-appointed commission in Germany agreed that the country should phase out the use of coal by 2038. The body agreed that a total of at least €40bn ($46bn) should be provided in aid for coal-mining states affected by the move, which is less than the figure of around €60bn they had asked for. It is hoped that the new target will partly offset the extra carbon emissions caused by Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power, which its government announced in 2011.

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  3. .

    Next year Germany will miss its emission-reduction targets. Continued dependence on coal is one of the main reasons for this. The share in the electricity mix of brown coal (lignite), the cheapest and dirtiest sort, has remained stable for two decades. No country burns more of it than Germany. Last year the government assembled a commission spanning politicians, industry, scientists, activists and unions to get itself off the stuff.

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