On October 6, the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection announced in a press release that in order to save natural gas and prevent power supply shortages in the upcoming heating season, Germany will restart some closed coal-fired power plants.
The German Ministry of Energy said that the German government issued an order on October 4 allowing Germany's largest electricity supplier RWE to restart two coal power units at the Niederlausen power plant and one coal power unit at the Neurath power plant. It also allowed Germany's second largest electricity supplier LEAG to restart two coal-fired power units at the Jahnschwald power plant to add additional power supply to the grid.
According to reports, the German government’s order took effect on October 5, and these coal power units are expected to be fully operational until March 2024. Separately, Berlin is also considering extending the operation of two coal-fired power units at RWE's Niederlausen power plant until spring 2025.
"The electricity supply reserve will be reactivated to save gas consumption in the power generation sector and thus prevent bottlenecks in the gas supply during the heating season of 2023/2024," the press release said, adding that the measure would not affect the German government. Completing the goal of phasing out coal by 2030 will not affect other climate goals.
Germany's environment ministry has pledged to assess the additional carbon emissions caused by the recommissioning of coal-fired power plants and provide compensation measures by next summer.
RT said that as Germany turned back to coal, people began to worry about a repeat of the energy crisis caused by a sharp drop in Russian natural gas supplies last year. Before 2022, Germany relies on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas imports. Due to the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia, Russia's energy exports to the EU have been significantly reduced. Germany is one of the countries hardest hit.
Although the German government has taken steps to reduce dependence on Russian natural gas with alternative supplies and lower energy consumption, industry experts warn that the threat of supply shortages still lingers.