The use of coal to generate electricity in Germany declined dramatically in 2017 (-17 %). This is expected to decrease by more than 20 % in 2018. This is primarily due to the increased use of renewable energy sources, particularly wind energy. Coal has therefore already made its contribution to achieving CO2 reduction targets as set forth in the federal government’s climate protection plan.
As such, there is no reason for the Commission for Growth, Structural Change and Employment to intervene in the power station owners’ freedom of ownership by setting an expiration date for the generation of electricity using coal. A proportionality assessment would have to be carried out to verify that such an intervention was necessary. Since the priority feed-in has already suppressed the generation of electricity using natural gas and coal and the intensification of emissions trading will suppress it further, no intervention in property rights is necessary and the setting of an expiration date for the generation of electricity using coal would therefore be an infringement of freedom of ownership as set forth in the German Basic Law.
The phase-out of coal also would not help Germany to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for sectors not subject to emissions trading such as industry and transport (Effort Sharing) as agreed in Brussels on 14th May 2018. By 2030, this sector must have independently achieved a 38 % reduction compared with 2005.
It would also be counterproductive from an energy economy perspective to place an over-proportional onus of adjustment on coal. This is because coal-fired power stations are needed for the energy transition. They compensate for load peaks and serve as a back-up during periods of little sunlight and no wind. What is more, coal-fired power stations are already available, which is not the case for open gas turbines, which have a lower efficiency.
After two years of decreasing global coal mining and declining global trade, the global market has recovered considerably. New power stations are being built in many newly industrialised and developing countries. This will more than compensate for the decrease in consumption, which is principally taking place in Europe. Imported coal is available in all regions of the world and is also required for reliable and cost-efficient energy supply in Germany. In an open national economy, supply using primary energy sources on the world market also constitutes a contribution towards creating an equilibrium in terms of trade with the respective partners. (VDKi/Si.)