IWR says coal will shrink in Germany in 2013
The International Economic Platform for Renewables (IWR) did the math behind new coal plant openings and the commissions in 2012 and finds that the uptick in coal power production last year is a "one-off effect."
Last week, we took a look at an internal briefing from the European Climate Foundation (ECF) on coal power throughout Europe. The main finding was that coal power is expected to go down throughout the EU by the end of this decade.
The ECF also took a look at Germany and found that the slight rise in coal power consumption in 2011 and 2012 would also be short-lived. Now, German renewables platform IWR has published its own analysis of the situation and concludes that the main reason for the rise in German coal power production was power exports, which reached a record level last year.
As IWR Director Norbert Allnoch puts it, the uptick in power production from lignite last year is a "one-off effect." Germany is currently in the process of replacing some old, relatively small coal plants with new, more efficient larger ones, and there was some overlapping last year. For instance, two old plants at Weisweiler were shut down last year, but not until the end of December.
Overall, the total amount of lignite power production capacity in Germany fell from 19,100 megawatts in 2012 to around 17,800 megawatts at present. The IWR therefore expects power production from lignite to drop from around 158 terawatt-hours last year to below 150 kilowatt-hours in 2013.
There is reason to be skeptical, however. As the IWR points out, a lot of this power was exported. And as a recent study by the Institute for Applied Ecology points out, power is generally traded in Europe based on the price. It therefore remains to be seen whether Germany's neighbors will continue to import inexpensive electricity from Germany, which could keep demand for German coal power high. (Craig Morris)