Coal-fired power stations compensate for load peaks, serve as a back-up for periods of little sunlight and no wind and prevent voltage fluctuations which cause significant financial damages in domestic households and industry. The “Coal Commission” had proposed financial incentives for the construction of public gas turbines. These are less effective and would have to be constructed at great expense and in the face of public opposition, whilst coal-fired power stations are already available.
Withdrawal from coal is already fully underway, even without the “Coal Commission”: In 2018, 16.3 % less coal was used (2017: -16.4 %). So far in 2019, this figure stands at 23 %. The hype surrounding a decision to discontinue coal usage is inexplicable.
Excluding the best and currently readily available energy source for securing the German power supply is futile. Countries such as Denmark, France, Great Britain and Canada have formed a joint alliance and intend to quickly exit from coal. Swedish scientists have calculated that this corresponds to 1/150 or 0.67 % of the estimated emissions by 2050 from the coal-fired power stations available worldwide. Germany does not belong to the alliance, but intends to make a decision this year on exiting coal. This would result in a saving of 0.25 % of the estimated emissions by 2050 from the coal-fired power stations available worldwide. No reason to endanger our power supply.
The trend for increased coal continues around the world. In 2018, global coal production was around 7.1 bn t – and therefore above the peak achieved in 2015 (Figure 1). Global trade has increased even more strongly. Take India, i. e.: According to the IMF, the country will achieve the highest economic growth in 2019, at 7.2 %. It has an insatiable requirement for energy – despite producing 720 Mt (2018) itself, its growing demand for coal will only be met by imports of 221 Mt (2018). Coal is not obsolete; rather, it is securing economic growth in Asia. For more information on this topic, see the current annual report of the Association of Coal Importers (VDKi), Berlin/Germany. (VDKi/Si.)