The German government wants to delay plans to get rid of coal power until after the country’s 2017 federal elections, according to government documents obtained by Bloomberg News Tuesday.
A policy document intended for Chancellor Angela Merkel, obtained by Bloomberg News, states the government should postpone firm decisions on shutting down the country’s coal power plants until after elections take place, as plans to do so are “politically controversial.” The document was drafted by Merkel’s chancellery.
Germany’s environmental minister previously said in January that the country plans to eliminate most coal power by 2050. The German government declined to comment to Bloomberg on plans to shut down coal power after the election
The end of coal power in Germany will likely drive power prices even higher. The average German already pays 39 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity due to intense fiscal support for green energy. The average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Coal currently provides about 44 percent of German electricity, and has largely replaced nuclear power after the government shut down the country’s nuclear reactors. Nuclear power made up 29.5 percent of Germany’s energy in 2000. The share dropped down to 17 percent in 2015, and by 2022 the country intends to have every one of its nuclear plants shutdown. This shift caused Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions to actually rise by 28 million tons each year after the country’s nuclear policy changed.
Germany’s largest electrical companies are already facing bankruptcy due to the enormous amounts of money the government has forced them to pour into green energy. The German utility Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE) was forced by the government to shut down many of its profitable nuclear reactors and build expensive wind and solar power. The company has a 46 percent chance of going bankrupt within the next two years, according to investment groups. The government’s mandate to use more wind and solar power cost is estimated to cost over $1.1 trillion.
Germany’s wind and solar power systems have already damaged the power grid and caused blackouts by providing too much or too little power at unpredictable times. Grid operators paid companies $548 million to shutter turbines to fix the problem, according to a survey by Wirtschaftswoche of Germany’s largest power companies.
The German government plans to cap the total amount of wind energy at 40 to 45 percent of national capacity, according to a report published earlier this month by the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung. Germany will get rid of 6,000 megawatts of wind power by 2019.
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