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Sufficient alternative coal available on the world market to replace Russian coal

“We are well prepared for the German government’s announcement to run coal-fired power plants more because of the gas shortage.“ This is what the Chairman of the Board of the Association of Coal Importers (VdKi), Berlin/Germany, Alexander Bethe, said at the VdKi annual meeting in Berlin. He also said that the replacement of Russian coal due to the EU embargo was in full swing. Bethe: “The changeover must succeed. The coal-fired power plants are under great pressure. The industry is confident”.

The world market for steam coal is being redistributed. The very high share of 50 % of Russian coal in total imports can be replaced from other coal-exporting countries. The test programmes of the new coal types from South Africa, Australia, USA, Colombia and Indonesia are in full swing, he said.

“However, we have problems with logistics,” says Bethe. The seaports in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp are working at full capacity due to the high arrival of Russian coal (until the beginning of August) plus alternatives and they are running at their limit. There are also bottlenecks in inland logistics, the transport of coal from the seaports to the coal-fired power plants by ship or rail, due to the high staff shortage. The VDKi calls for at least a five-year perspective for upgrading seaport terminals and inland logistics.

The full utilisation of the coal-fired power plants, however, is not a problem. And Bethe also does not see any drama in power generation now in summer because of the availability of renewable energies.

“The coal-fired power plants will ensure security of supply in electricity production already in the summer months, so that a gas reserve can be created with the available gas for the coming winter,” says the VdKi board chairman.

Traditionally, VdKi publishes a yearbook with the most important facts, figures and data for its annual meeting. Among other things, it says: “Never before has more coal been used to generate electricity globally than last year. According to calculations by the International Energy Agency (IEA), more coal could be produced and demanded worldwide in 2022 than ever before. The IEA expects records for the coming years as well”.

And Bethe adds: “We expect consumption of steam coal to exceed 30 Mt in Germany this year. That would again be an increase of more than 11 % compared to the previous year”.

More on the developments in the global coal and energy market in the current VdKi Annual Report, available on the VdKi website: www.kohlenimporteure.de (English version only in September 2022). (VDKi/Si.)