Jun 20, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Germany to fire up coal plants as Russia cuts gas supply

An elderly woman looks at the Jaenschwalde lignite coal-fired power plant, which is among the biggest single emitters of CO2 in Europe, on October 29, 2021 in Peitz, Germany.
The coal-fired Jänschwalde Power Station in Brandenburg, Germany. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany has to cut natural gas consumption and increase the burning of coal as the country moves away from its dependence on Russia for its energy supplies, Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced Sunday.

Driving the news: The Green Party lawmaker in Germany's center-left ruling coalition said in a statement that German gas storage facilities were currently about 57% full and the situation was going to be "really tight in winter" if the government didn't take the action.

  • Russian gas firm Gazprom announced last Thursday that it was cutting supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that links Russia's gas to Germany due to technical problems.

What they're saying: "To reduce gas consumption, less gas must be used to generate electricity. Coal-fired power plants will have to be used more instead," Habeck said.

  • "That's bitter, but it's simply necessary in this situation to lower gas usage,'' he added.

The big picture: Germany, along with the rest of the European Union, has moved to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas in response to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.

  • The German government's goal is to phase out coal production by 2030, per DW.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ben Geman: The announcement shows how the global oil and gas crunch — worsened by Russia's war on Ukraine and responses to it — could work against carbon-cutting in the near-term — even though EU leaders insist they're speeding up efforts to replace Russian fossil fuels with clean energy.

Go deeper: The climate spillover of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

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