April 21, 2009
Magical Thinking in Germany
Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democratic Party) is pushing for the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Germany. “We need eight to twelve new coal plants if we want to get out of nuclear energy,” Gabriel said on Friday at a meeting of the Mainz-Wiesbaden AG (KMW) in Mainz. With regard to the opponents of the planned coal-fired power in Mainz, the minister said: “Those who demonstrate against coal-fired power will get nuclear power plants instead.” Gabriel said, the decision about which power plants are built is the responsibility of companies and not politics. He added that new coal power plants would not increase carbon dioxide emissions.
First of all, old plants would be closed. In additon, the emissions trading scheme would limit the level of emissions. “You can build 100 coal-fired power plants and don’t have to have higher CO2 emissions,” said the environment minister.
Renewable energies would not be able to close the gap in energy supply that will arise due to the shutdown of nuclear power plants by 2020, said Gabriel. Even gas-fired power plants are not a real alternative because their power generation is expensive and thus not competitive for the energy supply of industrial production.
I had a bit of fun with the highlighted quote. 100 coal-fired plants and no higher CO2? Magic!
Yesterday, the current German environmental minister provides us with an updated and equally absurd quote:
German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said Wednesday the country will need to build more coal- and gas-fired power plants in coming years to ensure energy supplies, even as Germany is pursuing one of the world's most ambitious climate protection strategies. . .
Renewable energies have been booming in Germany in recent years and the renewable electricity production has already exceeded 20% of overall production. But the government has repeatedly said that there needs to be adequate backup power generation capacity to ensure that consumers and, more crucially, industry can be supplied with energy around the clock.
He also said that new fossil-fueled power plants like the 2,200-megawatt facility that RWE built in western Germany are contributing to climate protection goals.
"If one builds a new state-of-the-art lignite power plant to replace several older and much less efficient plants, then I feel this should also be acknowledged as a contribution to our climate protection efforts," Mr. Altmaier said.
A 2.2 gigawatt lignite power plant as a contribution to "climate protection"? Magic!
About Roger Pielke Jr
I am a professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I also have appointments as a Research Fellow, Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University; Visiting Senior Fellow, Mackinder Programme, London School of Economics; and Senior Visiting Fellow at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes of Arizona State University. I am also a Senior Fellow of The Breakthrough Institute, a progressive think tank.