Europe’s New Coal Rush

BalkanCoalMapBalkan countries and Ukraine are making “substantial investments” in polluting coal power stations to sell cheap electricity to the European Union, as the bloc searches for new suppliers to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. EU officials appear reluctant to use energy negotiations next month, or trade law, to force higher air pollution and environmental standards, despite the risks the rush poses to EU climate change and enlargement policies, and to finances and public health in the Balkans. —EurActiv, 19 May 2015

Germany is planning to soften the 2020 reduction targets for CO2 emissions by coal power plants, after opposition to the plan. As per the previous plan, the coal-based power plants need to cut down their emissions by 22 million tonnes by 2020, but the revised plan could bring it down to 16 million tonne, Reuters reported. The country’s plans to impose a levy on the ancient and polluting energy generating facilities didn’t go well with the industry. German power developer RWE has warned that enforcement of the levy would lead to immediate shut down of their lignite-fired power units. —Power Technology News, 19 May 2015

Germany’s largest power producer RWE has rejected a softened proposal by Germany’s economy ministry under which coal-fired power plants would have to lower their CO2 emissions by less than previously planned. Thousands of coal workers marched in Berlin last month to protest plans to impose a levy on the oldest and most polluting power plants, which unions say could put 100,000 jobs at risk. RWE warned the measure would lead to the immediate closure of its lignite-fired power plants. —Reuters, 19 May 2015

A future German power market without nuclear power and significantly reduced coal-fired power capacity ‚Äì both according to government plans ‚Äì and topped with the shutdown of modern gas-fired power plants ‚Äì an unintended consequence of increased renewable energy integration ‚Äì may eventually lead to something resembling the ‘Morgenthau Plan.’ Except in this scenario Germany’s destruction would be implemented by the German government itself via German energy sector. –Roman Kilisek, Breaking Energy, 11 May 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Fran√ßois Hollande staked out their countries’ claim to global green leadership today with a joint statement pledging to phase out fossil fuels and “decarbonise” the global economy by the end of the century. By choosing to shutter its nuclear reactors as part of its  Energiewende, Germany rid itself of a fleet of zero-carbon baseload power sources. And so, enter coal. Germany hoped to teach the rest of the world something about energy policy. It should be seen as a cautionary tale for policymakers about the dangers of letting politically expedient and nice-sounding green rhetoric cloud sound judgment, because this “green” strategy has somehow managed to increase the country’s reliance on coal while raising electricity costs. –Walter Russell Mead, American Interest, 19 May 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande jointly pledged Tuesday to do their utmost to ensure an “ambitious” UN deal to combat climate change is reached this year. In a joint statement at informal international talks in Berlin, the European Union’s two biggest economies also urged other countries to do their part in helping achieve a global push to cut emissions. France and Germany have “firmly decided to take all efforts to reach an ambitious, comprehensive and binding UN climate agreement by the end of this year,” Merkel and Hollande said. —AFP, 19 May 2015