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WATCH: Germany to increase coal production to compensate for cut in Russian gas supplies

Water steam rises from the cooling towers of a brown coal power station operated by Vattenfall AG in Jaenschwalde. File picture: Patrick Pleul/EPA

Water steam rises from the cooling towers of a brown coal power station operated by Vattenfall AG in Jaenschwalde. File picture: Patrick Pleul/EPA

Published Jun 21, 2022

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Cape Town - Coal-fired power plants in Germany will be started up again as the country compensates for a cut in gas supplies from Russia.

German Federal Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck said the move is a “direct consequence of Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine”.

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The switch back to burning coal will be “for a transitional period”, said Habeck.

“With the Replacement Power Plant Availability Act, the gas replacement reserve will be set up for a limited period until March 31, 2024.

“To this end, power plants that are already available to the electricity system as a reserve are being upgraded in order to be able to return to the market in the short term,” according to a translated statement.

The decision is at odds with Germany’s climate policy, which aims to ideally phase out coal by 2030.

According to Climate Analytics, coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel and most emissions from coal are in the electricity sector.

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In order to meet the commitments enshrined in the Paris Agreement, coal needs to be phased out globally by 2040 to achieve the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

At COP26 in Glasgow last year, governments agreed that global temperatures needed to be below 1.5°C.

Habeck said the situation is going to be “really tight in winter” if precautionary measures aren’t taken.

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“That means, to be honest, more coal-fired power plants for a transitional period. That's bitter, but it's almost necessary in this situation to reduce gas consumption. We must and we will do everything we can to store as much gas as possible in summer and autumn. The gas storage tanks must be full in winter,” he said.

Russia’s state-backed energy company, Gazprom, said last week that it had halved supplies from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

The Moscow Times reported that CEO Alexei Miller said: “we don’t play by rules we didn’t create,” during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

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