Germany energy regulator to close 4,788MW of coal plants
Germany’s energy regulator says as much as 4,788MW of coal-fired power generation capacity will cease to be marketable from January 1, as part of a policy to take carbon-polluting capacity out of the market, according to a Reuters report.
The move reflects Germany’s commitment to ending the fossil fuel age, idling the equivalent of five nuclear power plants in one step, while also cushioning the impact on utilities, regions and employment.
“The tenders have met with a positive response from the operators. The round was clearly oversubscribed,” says Jochen Homann, the head of the Bundesnetzagentur regulator.
The average payment that operators will receive to shut plants is £59,626 per MW, incurring total public spending of £285.2 million. Bids ranged between £5,441 per MW and £134,985 per MW.
Germany has decided to abandon coal by 2038 and achieve a mostly carbon-free energy system by 2050.
According to a statement from the country’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy from March this year, the country’s adoption of the Act on the Phase-out of Coal-fired Power Plants will take an entire generation to complete.
“It is a long-term project that comes after tough debates and a milestone for Germany’s energy transition. Germany is one of a handful of industrial countries in the world that is phasing out nuclear power by 2022 and power generated from coal by 2038 at the latest, and is deploying an active structural policy that provides clear prospects for the people living in the regions affected by this.
"We are taking care to design the coal-phase out in a way that delivers legal certainty, is based on sound economics, and provides for a social equilibrium,” said Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, at the time.
“A number of power plants will be retired before the end of the year. At the same time, we are expanding the use of renewables and retrofitting coal-fired power plants with CHP technology. Our structural change projects for local communities are also to begin this year. We will soon be signing an agreement to this effect between the federation and the Länder where lignite is being mined and decide on specific projects within the coordination body set up by the federation and the Länder.”
The Federal Ministry report says that the Act on the Phase-out of Coal-fired Power Plants contains provisions stipulating a gradual phase-out of electricity generation from hard coal and lignite by 2038 at the latest; a continuous monitoring of the energy security situation; the deletion of CO2 certificates; compensation for electricity users in the event of a rise in electricity prices resulting from the coal phase-out; and adjustment payments for older employees working in the coal sector.
The loss of electricity caused by the gradual phase-out of coal will be compensated for by a higher renewables target of 65 percent by 2030. At the same time, funding for combined heat and power will be extended and developed to encourage the transition from coal to more flexible and climate-friendly power sources, the report adds.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.