Coal exit: money to RWE instead of more brown coal?

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Electricity from coal is actually much too expensive. It costs the economy three Times more than Wind and solar power. A faster exit strategy from Coal would be much cheaper than expected – even in the case of a payment to RWE.

The entrance to Manheim in the lignite open pit mine of Hambach. In this village, RWE wants to promote brown coal.

Many of the electricity from coal and lignite was considered as a favorable energy. According to information from the German Federal environment Agency (UBA) is this assumption, but clearly wrong.

In addition to the pure production-namely, the social costs must be taken into account in the cost-of-viewing. These are, according to UBA, in the case of the coal-fired power generation is particularly high.

Expensive electricity from coal is the cost of the environment, through the greenhouse gas CO2 and harmful air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and ammonia. According to calculations by the Federal office for the environment for society and so alone in the year 2016, the additional costs by the electricity from coal in the amount of approximately EUR 46 billion.

Be paid for these additional costs, however, are not on the electricity bill. They are hidden and paid for by the citizens of other Places, due to higher costs for health, higher contributions for health insurance and taxes. An orderly exit strategy from Coal saves, therefore, from the point of view of the environmental authority billion. In a direct comparison of the energy carriers, electricity from Wind and solar energy in the overall analysis is thus already today the cheapest energy and three Times cheaper than electricity from coal-fired power.

More: Germany could reach the climate goals easily

More transparency of costs due to Coal phase-out?

Previously played by the health and environmental damage in the German debate on electricity costs. According to the UBA expert, Astrid Matthey, that may change now. Through the discussion of the exit strategy from Coal “might now be more transparency on the environmental impacts of fossil fuels. So far, it is from our point of view, especially because the environmental costs of fossil fuels only appear to be insufficient on the account statements of companies and citizens”, says Matthey, compared to the DW.

According to energy expert Oliver Krischer of the green party in the Bundestag, not a single brown would, even today, coal-fired power plant more, if all the consequential costs for these power plants would be taken into account.

“All these power plants would, at a stroke, uneconomical. The consequences of CO2-emissions for the climate crisis, the damage to Health caused by mercury, fine dust and nitrogen oxides, the environmental damage caused by the felling of forests and the pumping of ground water, as well as the cost of broken houses and roads through mountain damage can be passed on easily to the General public, and the balance sheet of the brown coal electricity do not appear in the Cost. The only reason brown coal electricity on the stock market is cheap. The bill we all pay for,” says Krischer compared to the DW.

Lignite mining from RWE: on the left of the edge of the hambach forest, back up to a 450 Meter deep hole.

Christoph Kost from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar energy systems, is confirmed by the evaluation of Krischer. The environmental and health costs allocated to the energy sources according to, “no longer would coal-fired power plants”. Due to the well made photovoltaic “would be worthwhile even battery storage.”

In the coal Commission of the Federal government is currently also the environment will be discussed, the generation cost of energy. With regard to the work of the Commission, the German Federal environment Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Economics hold back with opinions.

The NRW-Ministry of economic Affairs points out to the DW, that in addition to the environment, the effects on Employment costs had to be included in the economic analysis. In addition, high-performance storage to security of energy supply is also “necessary”.

Battery storage in combination with photovoltaics in the overall analysis already cheaper than coal power.

Coal companies in the Coal phase-compensate?

The Figures of the Federal environment Agency are the experts in the company and a party Central known. The energy group RWE declined to comment to the environmental costs of coal power compared to the DW, but also stresses that the group is making efforts in research and development, for a “further reduction of power plant emissions.”

The Deputy Chairman of the SPD in the Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia, Marc Herter stressed to the DW, the importance of the coal Commission, “the energy transition is economically and socially an export hit”. Herter advises “ambitious climate protection policy to connect with a very solid process of structural change.” And furthermore, “the people in the affected regions.”

Protest poster for a different point of view on a tree house in the hambach forest.

Lorenz Gösta Beutin, economic, energy and environmental expert of the Left faction in the Bundestag, not more calls for the Green “to hide the true cost of dirty coal”. He warns the “disclosure of environmental costs” and do not want to release “the energy companies out of their responsibility for the damage to nature and man”.

The idea is to reimburse energy companies for non-produced electricity from coal, during the Coal phase-out, as proposed by, for example, the energy economist Claudia Kemfert, rejects his party. “That would be one of the ironies of history: corporations earn decades, a Golden nose on the fossil-nuclear business, which has displaced the external costs to Others.”

Now the company “generously to bolster if this absurd and destructive business is finished”, don’t go. “No way!”, Beutin stressed to the DW.

Energy economist Prof. Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for economic research (DIW), expresses itself here in the DW-to-exit Interview compensation payments to RWE for Coal.

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Battle of the hambach forest: an interview with Claudia Kemfert (DIW)

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Battle of the hambach forest: an interview with Claudia Kemfert (DIW)


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