Press Release 07/2019

World Trade in Hard Coal Rose by 4.7% in 2018

Hard Coal Can Prevent Stress in the Electric Power System in Germany

  • Sharp decline in German hard coal imports (-9%)
  • Exit decision must not be allowed to endanger supply security
  • Power supply will become insecure and expensive without hard coal

Existing hard coal-fired power plants secure the energy transition (backup).

Hard coal-fired power plants secure supply during load peaks, are not affected by the dark doldrums and prevent fluctuations in power tension that can cause major financial losses to private households and industry. The “Coal Commission” has proposed financial incentives for the construction of open-cycle gas turbines. These plants have a lower degree of efficiency, however, and a lot of money must be spent and a lot of resistance among the population must be overcome before they can be built while hard coal-fired power plants are available right now. 

The exit from hard coal is already well under way even without the “Coal Commission”: in 2018, the volume of hard coal used for power generation declined by 16.3% (2017: -16.4%). A decline of 23% has accrued for 2019 so far. The hype regarding an exit decision for hard coal is not understandable.

Shutting down the best energy source that already exists for securing German power supply will not have any impact whatsoever on global climate. Countries such as Denmark, France, Great Britain and Canada have joined an alliance for the purpose of exiting coal quickly. Swedish scientists have calculated that this corresponds to 1/150 or 0.67% of the estimated emissions from hard-coal-fired power plants worldwide by 2050. Germany is not a member of this alliance, but wants to make a decision for the exit from coal in this year. This would save 0.25% of the estimated emissions from hard-coal-fired power plants worldwide up to 2050. Not a reason to put our power supply at risk.

The worldwide trend to more hard coal is unabated. World hard coal production in 2018 came to 7.1 billion tonnes – exceeding the high point of 2015. World trade has grown even faster. Take India as an example: according to IMF, the country will post the highest rate of economic growth worldwide in 2019 (7.2%). The energy demand in this country has not declined at all – despite its own production of 720 million tonnes (2018), the growing demand for coal can be covered solely by imports of 221 million tonnes (2018). Hard coal is not a discontinued model, but is instead securing economic growth in Asia. More information about this can be found in the latest Annual Report from the VDKi.

Berlin, 18 July 2019