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Majority of Germans accept lignite as a bridging technology

Almost 60 % of the German public accept coal-fired power plants as a bridging technology to guarantee secure energy prices and supply. Over 40 % feel that the plants are also crucial to Germany’s electricity supply in the longer term. This high level of public approval was identified in a survey that the German research institute EMNID conducted at the end of 2014 on behalf of the German Centre for Energy Resources, and confirmed similar results from 2013. The representative survey is part of a five-year research project run by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research on the prospects for coal use in Germany.

The survey results, which were analysed at TU Bergakademie Freiberg – University of Resources, also showed that most Germans are still inadequately informed about how the electricity mix is split between different types of energy. While respondents “dramatically underestimated” how much of the mix actually and currently comes from coal, they heavily overestimated the contributions from nuclear energy, oil and gas. Estimates of renewable energies were the only ones to be more or less in line with reality, according to the study. These serious gaps in knowledge can encourage misconceptions with regard to the opinions formed by individuals and by society as a whole. The same applies to the substitutability of lignite and hard coal, says Prof. Michael Nippa of TU Bergakademie Frei­berg. The researchers found that Germans still seriously underestimate the share of coal in their country’s electricity mix, and that the majority seem to be unaware of how important coal currently is for their energy supply.

Another finding from the survey showed that, overall, the German public’s interest in energy issues is overestimated. Just 18 % of the some 1,000 respondents said they were very interested in matters related to energy supply; another 35 % said they were interested. One very widespread view (53 %) is that industry is crucial to ensuring Germany’s prosperity. Moreover, almost three-quarters of the respondents said that the domestic mining industry makes good sense and is worth preserving. (DEBRIV)