by VDKi

Press release 1/2022

  • Hard coal is an important pillar of security of energy supply in Germany
  • Power generation from hard coal increased by 26.7% in the year 2021
  • Hard coal imports have risen by 24.5% in 2021
  • VDKi continues to warn of a crash transformation of the German power supply with a coal phase-out by 2030
  • Safeguarding the “Energiewende” with hard coal - also important during the current tense market situation
  • Recovery of the global economy stimulates trade: World seaborne trade in hard coal up by almost 6%, global hard coal production up by over 5%
  • Change in management in February: Jürgen Osterhage, former German TV- correspondent, succeeds Manfred Müller

The course of the year 2021 illustrates very clearly that security of energy supply is and will remain one of the most important topics of the energy transition.

The penultimate act in the phase-out of nuclear power in Germany, the decommissioning of 4 GW power plant capacity, points out how important the remaining base of controllable, secured generation capacity is. Securing the energy transition is also a priority for the VDKi, because available capacity is indispensable as the share of renewable energies continues to rise.

We would like to expressly point out the higher risk of a crash transformation of the German electricity and district heating supply within a few election periods. The so far well-functioning system of different fossil fuelled large power plants with secured output, also and especially as a back-up for dark doldrums periods, should not be destabilised in hectic manner. In this context, we expressly emphasise the important role of hard coal-fired power plants for the supply of electricity and district heating. Switching the back-up generation capacities exclusively to gas in view of tense market situations is detrimental to supply security and will impose even higher costs on consumers.

In order to enable the transformation to a sustainable and secure energy supply and to create perspectives for energy companies and their employee’s, the political decisions should be made swiftly - those should also affect the energy market design.

Electricity generation from hard coal increased by 26.7 % in 2021. The use of hard coal in the power plants was favoured due the extreme price increase of the competitive energy gas as well as the weather-related lower electricity feed-in from wind power plants. In the steel industry, coal sales benefited from the cyclical effects. The share of hard coal in total primary energy consumption increased from to 7.5 to 8.6 %.

German hard coal imports increased significantly by 24.5 % or 7.2 million tonnes to around 39 million tonnes in 2021. Imports of coking coals increased by 16 %, imports of steam coals by 28 %.

According to preliminary calculations by the VDKi, global hard coal production will have increased by more than 5 % to 7.4 billion t in 2021. China has repeatedly achieved a considerable production increase of 200 million tonnes in 2021 due to the rapid economic recovery. But India, the USA and Russia, Vietnam and Colombia could also benefit from this and increase their production.

Seaborne trade also increased by almost 6 % to 1,180 million tonnes. The exports of the largest hard coal exporting countries increased, except for Australia and South Africa. Compared to the previous year, Russia with an increase of 13 % and the USA with an increase of 44 % were even able to exceed the exports of 2019.
Chairman Alexander Bethe bids farewell to Managing Director Manfred Müller and thanks him for his excellent work during the difficult year 2021, which was marked by the Corona pandemic. He will be succeeded by the former German TV-correspondent (Channel ARD) Jürgen Osterhage as of February 1st, 2022.


Berlin, January 14th, 2022
V.i.S.d.P.: Verein der Kohlenimporteure e. V., Manfred Müller, Managing Director (until February 28, 2022)

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