There is a perception throughout the developed world that coal has seen its last days. Surprising to most, this is not the case. In Germany, which is one of the world’s greenest nations, there is an acceleration of coal production for electricity generation. Germany has become over-reliant on renewable energy in the wake of its nuclear power plant retirement initiative. Consequently, Europe is becoming a high demand market for the import and consumption of coal.
Germany is realizing that its goal of a carbonless economy is not achievable with current technologies. The German power grid cannot rely on intermittent electricity generation, and has instead relied on foreign electricity producers to supplement the German shut down of nuclear power plants. In addition, the nation is still reliant on domestic coal fired electricity generation. As recent as 2015, coal still accounted for 44%-55% of Germany’s gross electricity generation depending on how the coal is categorized.
Germany should capitalize on is its domestic high-efficiency low-emissions (HELE) coal and carbon capture/sequestration technology. This technology is successfully applied in other parts of the world. It would limit the financial burden on European electricity consumers.
Germany should also adjust its energy subsidies so that coal is on a level playing field with wind and solar. German’s renewable technologies are government subsidized at a much higher investment rate than other energy sources. Germany possess some of the most efficient coal fired power plants in the world (48% efficiency), and yet German consumers have the highest average electric utility costs among European nations that incorporate green energy.
Synfuels Americas is continuing to develop HELE technologies that can support Germany and other European countries. These technologies can help power generation companies utilize cheaper fuels and limit their carbon footprint. In addition, these technologies can enable nation’s economies to be self-sustaining with their own domestic resources. This can increase energy security while reducing pollution and lifecycle costs associated with power generation.
It is unrealistic for governments to achieve a 100% green energy economy in the near future. Instead, Germany and similar governments should capitalize on the economic advantages of HELE technologies to ensure their nations’ future prosperity. Germany has the opportunity to lead the way. That is Synfuels Americas goal: to partner with others to lead the way to a cleaner and more efficient future.