【News】Germany moves forward on coal phase-out

Due to the energy crisis after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany made the decision to temporarily keep several coal-fired power plants online for backup energy. However, on April 1, 2024, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck announced the retirement of 15 coal-fired power plants to the German Press Agency (dpa). 

Habeck told reporters that the coal-fired plants were now “neither necessary nor economical”, stating that “several coal-fired power plants that were still on the grid as a precautionary measure over the last two years are therefore now superfluous and can be taken off the grid for good”. Posting on Facebook, the German Embassy said, “Germany has a more secure and independent energy supply than before. Prices for electricity and gas have fallen significantly and the expansion of renewable energies has contributed to the fact that the majority of electricity now comes from clean, climate-friendly sources”.

According to media reports, seven coal-fired power plants with a total combined capacity of around 3.1GW were disconnected from the grid in the Rhenish mining area and Brandenburg on Sunday, March 31. The remaining eight, with a total capacity of 1.3GW, were taken offline on Monday, April 1.

Additionally, German energy giant RWE has also announced that it will permanently retire five coal-fired power plants in the Rhenish mining area by the end of April on the path to phasing fossil fuels out of its energy production by 2030. Since the end of 2020, RWE has decommissioned 12 lignite-fired power units with a total combined output of 4.2GW, and is currently in the process of phasing out coal-fired power generation.

Although Germany’s energy mix contains coal-fired power, its share of electricity generation has significantly declined, falling from 33.2% in 2022 to 26.1% in 2023. Meanwhile, the share of renewable energy exceeded 50% in 2023, making it clear that renewable energy has become a major power source in Germany. Germany continues to make steady progress toward the goal of exiting coal-fired power by 2030.