Monday, November 4, 2013

New coal-fired generators becoming operational in Germany

Today we have the annual "first coal-fired" plant in Germany article from Bloomberg
I'll explain how that can be.

Merkel Facing Power Dilemma as Coal Plants Open: Energy Markets - Bloomberg:
Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, is poised to open its first new coal-fired plants in eight years, just as prices slump because of a glut of electricity.
GDF Suez SA, Trianel GmbH and Steag GmbH will bring three new plants online by December, enough to supply more than 4.4 million homes. The nation is already producing so much electricity that exports will surpass last year’s record in 2013, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Muenster, Germany. Power prices may slide 12 percent by 2016, according to UBS AG in Zurich.
Graphic from "Mixed Messages from German Utilities' Planned capacity additions
If you continue reading this article you'll encounter some interesting facts and impacts on market pricing, but it won't spell out how Bloomberg is reporting on the " first new coal-fired plants in eight years" when on August 20, 2012, they reported:
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government says RWE AG (RWE)’s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It’s fired with coal.
That RWE plant was described as "the world’s most advanced lignite coal-fired power station."

And therein lies the discrepancy.  the current article is referring to "Steinkohle" (hard coal), whereas the plant that opened previously was Braunkohle (lignite)

I have no position on what constitutes an authentic coal, but I do know that lignite is used to fuel more electricity generation in Germany than hard coal is, and that lignite is the dirtier fuel.

Perhaps Bloomberg should note that while Germany is building more coal generation than any other non-renewable source, the fuel is cleaner than the lignite currently more common in generation there.

Today's Bloomberg article ends:
“Coal and lignite will continue to play an important role when it comes to complementing the fluctuation of renewable energy,” Hildegard Mueller, head of BDEW, the Germany utility lobby, said. “If you want the energy transition to succeed you won’t be able to renounce coal from the German energy mix for the foreseeable future.”

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