Germany’s Coal Reliance to Last Amid Renewables Drive, BDEW Says

Germany’s reliance on coal-fired plants will last even as Europe’s biggest power user seeks to get more of its electricity from renewable sources, according to the head of energy lobby group BDEW.

“We won’t be able to renounce coal from Germany in the foreseeable future,” Hildegard Mueller said at a coal conference in Berlin today. “Coal is essential to the energy mix.”

Germany covered about 45 percent of its 2012 power consumption with coal-fired power, while 22 percent came from renewable sources, according to BDEW in Berlin. The government plans to meet at least 35 percent of its electricity requirement from clean energy supplies by 2020, from about 23 percent now.

At times of high solar and wind generation, the wholesale price of electricity can drop below the level where coal plants make money, rendering new investment unprofitable, Mueller said. German power for 2014 has fallen 16 percent this year, reaching a record low in August, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg.

“No investment decision has been made in favor of coal since 2008 because of the uncertainty of the utilization rate of the plant,” Mueller said. New investment has also been held back by the financial crisis and expectations of higher emissions costs, she said.

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