On 15th January 2016, the VDKi (German Coal Importer Association) in Hamburg welcomed a high-profile guest to its New Year’s Reception. The President of the IG BCE (German Industrial Union for Mining, Chemicals and Energy), Michael Vassiliadis, delivered his keynote speech in front of an audience of around 170 members and guests.
He considers the latest fossil-fuel phase-out proposals from the initiative of the German think-tank Agora Energiewende to be entirely unconvincing. In his opinion Germany needs a comprehensive approach for its energy policies that incorporates social, economic and climate policy objectives. Instead, Agora Energiewende subordinates energy policy to a regulation strategy based solely on climate protection. The Agora ideas could not stand up to the demands of reality, commented the IG BCE President.
In spite of – and indeed because of – the energy transition, coal is an indispensable, competitive energy source that is reliably available and can compensate for fluctuations in the supply of renewable energy sources, while also remaining an important raw material, particularly for the steel industry.
The VDKi President, Dr. Wolfgang Cieslik, pointed out that record kilowatt-hour power generation from renewable energy sources alone does not represent success. Rather, power has to be supplied to consumers and made affordable, neither of which can be guaranteed by renewable energies. Expansion of the grid, he continued, cannot keep up with the unchecked development of green energy, and the annual subsidies total almost 25 bn €. Furthermore, grid operators incur enormous follow-up costs which will ultimately be borne by electricity consumers. Cieslik went on: “Even in the wake of the Paris Climate Change Conference, it is clear that coal-fired power plants are the only means for generating a reliable and affordable power supply.” (VDKi/Si.)