coal retirement
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Technology company Wartsila has published the associated benefits of rapid coal retirement for Germany.

To be able to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power generation and achieve major system-wide benefits, Wartsilla has recommended the use of a combination of renewable energy and flexibility.

The benefits would include Germany avoiding fuel & carbon costs and as well as taking advantage of and enjoying new clean power export opportunities. 

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National energy independence for Germany would in turn result in massive economic benefits, the electrification of the economy resulting in massive reductions in carbon emissions, as well as health benefits such as reduced deaths from carbon emissions-related diseases.

However, Wartsilla states that the increase in renewables adoption must be enough to meet baseload power for the benefits to be fully recorded.

Accelerating Germany’s coal exit would turn Germany from a net importer to a net exporter of power in the 2030s, according to Wartsilla’s ‘Fast Phase-out 2030’ scenario. Adopting the model would require Germany to build 13GW of renewables power per annum through to 2030 and eliminate coal-fired generation eight years ahead of target.

Germany would also require up to 12GW of flexible gas-powered combined heat and power (CHP) to meet heating demand as coal is phased out. Up to 5GW of CHP is required before 2025 in a cost-optimal system, which should be met using efficient engine infrastructure. 

Key benefits Germany would record include: 

  • The country having an excess of 650 TWh of exportable renewable power between 2033-2045, (which is 30% more than Germany’s own annual native load, which is around 500 TWh). 
  • Germany could save up to 600 million tonnes of CO2 by 2045, equivalent to 81% of its national carbon footprint today (compared to phasing out coal by 2038).  
  • Based on the recent EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) carbon price of €50 per tonne, this scenario would allow Germany to avoid €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) annually in carbon prices alone.   
  • The cost of production to meet demand is 13% lower in the Fast Phase-out 2030 scenario than replacing coal capacity with 30% less renewable energy over the same period; clearly showing that renewables are the cheapest form of electricity production. 

Jan Andersson, European Market Development Manager, Wärtsilä Energy, said: “Our analysis from both sides of the coal exit spectrum is clear: value has been eroded from coal by low-cost renewable baseload. The coal phase-out presents myriad opportunities for European countries to cut production costs, achieve energy independence and create new revenue through society-wide sector coupling. Flexibility is key to “leveling up” variable renewables to fulfill a baseload role to realise these benefits.”  

“In Germany, decisions taken in the next few months will determine whether they ramp up power imports (racking up cost and carbon) from neighbouring countries to fill the capacity gap, or pave the way to becoming a net exporter of clean power to the rest of Europe.”