German hard coal share dives to near 70-year low – study
Higher carbon prices last year drove the share of hard coal in Germany’s energy mix to its lowest level since 1949, making the end of its use “foreseeable”, Agora Energiewende said.
The share of hard coal in Germany’s primary energy mix declined to 10% in 2018, down from 11% in 2017, while power output from hard coal also fell 11% to 83 TWh as carbon prices hit their highest level in 10 years, the Berlin-based think tank added in new study.
“The farewell to the fuel that led to the economic miracle in west Germany is thus imminent – not only in the field of hard coal mining after the last hard coal mine was closed at the end of 2018 – but also in the field of hard coal utilisation.”
Germany has currently tasked a coal commission to navigate its exit from coal-fired generation in order that the country meets its emissions reduction targets.
With hard coal on the decline, the commission should now focus on an exit from lignite-fired generation, said the Agora study, noting the fuel’s share in Germany’s power mix remained steady at 22% last year.
“It will thus be the task of the coal commission for this year to work out an exit path for lignite as the emissions trading system is not enough.”
The country still has 18.9 GW of lignite-fired power plants online and 21.9 GW of hard coal, data from BNA network regulator showed.
Operators and unions have warned against an early closure of their plants, pointing to job losses and poorer security of supply.
German carbon emissions declined by 50m tonnes last year to 854m tonnes, which is 31.7% below 1990 levels, but still 100m tonnes more than the 40% reduction target would require by 2020.
By 2030, the government wanted to see emissions down by 55% compared to 1990 levels.