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Coal

Why are we calling for a coal phase-out now and how can we imagine change? And what’s wrong with electricity from lignite anyway?

Read on and find out with our background information!

Is coal really that bad?

We have compiled a small fact sheet to dispel the biggest myths about coal power.
Among them are subsidies, overcapacities, electricity prices, economic efficiency, and bridging technology.

There is also our flyer “Fact check: Coal” and a flyer that explains our form of action for residents and workers in an understandable way.

Facts and figures about coal

Note: This page and the linked papers are from 2016 and may potentially be out of date.

These background papers from Robin Wood provide extensive knowledge about the status quo of coal power in Germany.

Few people are aware: In 2014, coal still accounted for 43.6 per cent of Germany‘s electricity mix. Most of the coal fired is brown coal (57 percent) – by far the most climate-damaging energy source.

Coal and climate change

The paper “Coal and Climate Change” provides an overview of the relationship between coal-fired power generation and climate change, addressing questions such as:
What climate targets has the German government committed itself to? How has coal-fired power generation developed in Germany since 1990, what is its status quo and what is its future?

You can find the PDF here: Coal and climate change

Coal and opencast mines

Lignite is mined in opencast mines, with considerable consequences for society and nature. Opencast mines destroy natural and cultural landscapes and cause extensive and often irreversible damage to nature, society and the climate. In the Germany, the amount of lignite mined has remained almost unchanged since the 1990s. 12 opencast lignite mines are currently active. Around 20 per cent of the lignite mined worldwide is extracted from them. In 2014, this amounted to 178,178,000 tonnes.

This background paper “Coal and Opencast Mines” provides answers to questions such as:
How did lignite come into being? Where is it mined in Germany and by whom? What are the consequences of opencast lignite mines for society and nature? What about legal protection and compensation for those affected by resettlement? And: What are the future prospects for the opencast mining regions?

You can find the PDF here: Coal and opencast mines

Coal and security of supply

In the event of a coal phase-out, the lights would regularly go out in Germany, according to the legend spread by the coal lobby. But lignite is increasingly no longer systemically relevant to the energy system. The growing share of renewable energies is making the old base-load power plants more and more superfluous, because they are extremely inflexible. What is needed are fast-starting and flexibly controllable energy sources – for example gas-fired power plants. In an energy system based on renewable energies, security of supply can only be guaranteed if the share of conventional, inflexible power plants is reduced.

The background paper “Coal and Security of Supply” provides answers to questions such as: Why was coal an essential part of the energy system in the past and why are coal-fired power plants incompatible with an energy system that relies on an increasing share of renewables? Why is security of supply in no way threatened if coal power is abandoned?

You can find the PDF here: Coal and security of supply

Coal and the big utilities

Coal-fired power generation is essentially driven by a handful of companies: EnBW, E.ON, RWE, STEAG and – until the announced sale of the coal division – Vattenfall. Despite the considerable consequences of coal-fired power generation for society and nature, the corporations are holding on to coal-fired power generation.

The background paper “Coal and the big energy suppliers” provides answers to questions such as:
What role do the corporations EnBW, E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall play in coal-fired power generation in Germany? What share do coal-fired power plants have in their power plant fleet or in their electricity generation? Who actually owns the corporations? And: How do the companies stand with regard to a change towards renewable energies?

You can find the PDF here: Coal and the major energy suppliers