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Guardian Panic Over New Coal Power Stations

August 28, 2014

By Paul Homewood




It seems the Guardian has finally woken up to the fact that, while Britain is busy shutting down the last of its coal fired power plants, most of Europe is busy building new ones.

Worse still, many of these will burn lignite, which emits much more CO2 than black coal.

They report:


New coal power stations designed to burn Europe’s massive deposits of lignite pose a serious threat to the continent’s decarbonisation efforts, according to figures released on Wednesday.

Analysts from Greenpeace’s Energydesk compiled data from the German government that shows burning Europe’s reserves of lignite would wipe out the EU’s entire carbon budget from 2020 until the end of the century.

Lignite – also known as brown coal – power stations currently make up more than 10% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions. Greenpeace said that if Europe is to continue to play its part in keeping the world within the internationally accepted limit of 2C of warming, 90% of the carbon contained in its lignite reserves must remain buried.

Despite this, lignite-fuelled power stations are still being built, locking in consumption of the fuel for decades. There are 19 such facilities in various stages of approval, planning or construction in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. Greenpeace figures show these new projects alone would emit almost 120m tonnes of CO2 every year – equivalent to three-quarters of the annual carbon output of the UK’s energy sector. The average lifespan for a coal power station is about 40 years, meaning the plants could release nearly 5bn tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Greenpeace energy analyst Jimmy Aldridge said: “The expansion of lignite mining in Europe is today the most serious symptom of the continent’s chronic addiction to dangerous fossil fuels, and a massive threat to its efforts to tackle climate change. The companies involved will continue for as long as they can – we need our political leaders to act in order to stop this situation from getting worse. [Barack] Obama has taken decisive action against coal in the US, it’s time European leaders did the same.”



While Poland, particularly, is building lignite plants, Germany themselves are concentrating their efforts on black coal, and therefore adding to the number quoted by Greenpeace.




Whether Germany uses lignite or not, it remains by far the world’s largest producer of it, and so cannot absolve itself of any responsibility for its burning.




Meanwhile, Germany’s Energy Regulator, Jochen Homann, stresses the importance of coal in the country’s energy mix, particularly with the strategic problems in the Ukraine and their implications for gas supply.


BERLIN, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Germany will continue to need coal-fired power plants, its energy regulator said, warning that Europe’s biggest economy should not rely solely on renewables or risk increasing exposure to Russian gas as it shuts down nuclear plants.

"Those who call for an end of coal power generation don’t have much interest in a reliable energy policy," Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency (BnetzA), told an energy industry conference on Wednesday.

"We will close further nuclear plants; these capacities need to be replaced," he said, adding that coal power was vital to achieve this.

Germany’s Energiewende, the country’s ambitious plan to reform its energy supply, calls for the closure of all nuclear plants by 2022. A surge in solar and wind power is expected to plug some of the gap, while the use of coal is opposed by campaigners who oppose climate-harming carbon emissions.

The BnetzA oversees power transmission firms (TSOs) that must guarantee a steady supply of electricity, a task that has become more difficult since Germany shut 40 percent of its nuclear plants in 2011 following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant.

Homann said that intermittent renewables alone would not be able to replace nuclear power and provide round-the-clock supply and warned that increased exposure to gas could also carry risks due to the current crisis in Ukraine, which is a transit route to Europe for Russian gas.

Russia’s involvement in the conflict has led to renewed calls for Europe to shift its reliance away from the country, which meets demand for about a third of the continent’s natural gas, oil and coal.

"Whoever eyes a quick switch to gas has to face the question whether this can be an option in light of current events in Ukraine," Homann said.

  1. August 28, 2014 12:57 pm

    Guess when you reject the one fuel that really could reduce emissions and keep an economy going, you have to tap dance around reality. It seems politicians are asleep a lot and miss most of what is going on around them. A little more caffeine, maybe?

  2. John O permalink
    August 28, 2014 2:24 pm

    In this case, I think the UK government should start building ten times as many wind turbines & at least a square mile (or two) of solar energy farms in order to try & balance out what Germany is doing. Just tell taxpayers it’s for the good of Europe (& the planet) & I’m sure they’ll be pleased to pick up the bill.

    • Joe Public permalink
      August 28, 2014 3:49 pm

      “Just tell taxpayers …… they’ll be pleased to pick up the bill.”

      It’s worse than that!

      Not everybody pays tax. But everybody pays for electricity.

  3. John F. Hultquist permalink
    August 28, 2014 5:11 pm

    internationally accepted limit of 2C of warming

    Here we see a number, namely 2 C°, simply picked out of the air by no one knows who and then transformed into an internationally accepted “fact.” This is an example of the big lie repeated often.

    Insofar as it is now known that the historical temperature data are not to be trusted and the modern temperature appears to be flat-lining – statements such as these can be dismissed.
    Then there is this: “ 90% of the carbon contained in its lignite reserves must remain buried.”

    The probability of that, to the nearest whole number is 0. We’re all going to die! Or not.

  4. Herve D permalink
    August 28, 2014 5:12 pm

    Media are the major guilty group for having put too much propaganda emphasis upon climate hoax and CO². So much than politicians were not courageous enough to curb down this tendency towards more realism: No, they rode this horse to be elected (never forget that a political man exclusively works for himself first, a little for his party, then go week end).
    The other guilty are ideologically short minded NGO’s, plague of democracy as they influence politic without population mandate.

  5. catweazle666 permalink
    August 29, 2014 1:32 am

    Long live King Coal!


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