News from Germany: Conventional Generators “Doomed”

If you talk to coal industry people in WV about renewable power in Germany, they will claim that the energiewende has failed and the Germans are going to be importing lots of coal from now on.  Wrong.  Here is the projection of Germany’s grid operators for their future generation mix:

screenshot-cleantechnica com 2014-10-07 08-00-55Coal/lignite generation remains near current levels in only one of the three 2025 scenarios, and falls dramatically by 2035.

A friend from Wisconsin sent me an article about how renewable generation, in particular PV, has reduced the basic price of electricity in Germany by shaving daytime peaks.  This follows the same pattern as electricity prices in Denmark, which have fallen as more and more renewables have entered Danish markets.

He also sent me an article from Cleantechnica (source of the graph above) which cites an HSBC report showing that the expansion of electricity storage capacity in Germany is eliminating any chance for a revival of fossil fuel generation.

Conventional electricity generators have already received a battering from the revolution inspired by rooftop solar. Most fossil fuel generators – particularly those in Europe and Australia, are struggling to make a profit.

But things are likely to get worse. The influx of battery storage is destined to further reduce demand from conventional generators.

A major new analysis from global investment bank HSBC – Energy Storage, Power to the People – says the boom days for the fossil fuel generation are over. “There is no prospect of any return to anywhere near the level of profitability seen in the latter part of the last decade in generation,” it writes.

The HSBC analysis looks at a range of storage technologies and how that will impact the conventional energy systems. Its major conclusion is that affordable battery storage will increase distributed generation – solar panels on household and business rooftops – and further reduce demand from the grid.

On top of that, grid operators are also likely to use large-scale battery storage to balance demand and supply and for smart grid enhancements. That’s more bad news for conventional power generators. Once again, it says, the revolution will be led by Germany, notwithstanding the major initiatives in California and China.

The coal boys can huddle together and tell themselves fairy tales about the coal boom just over the horizon, but it ain’t gonna happen.


Shortly after I uploaded this post, I received a broad overview of the trends in the thermal coal markets.  You guessed it, more “doom.”  Here is a link to this huge resource, Global coal: the market has shifted, which contains links to studies from around the world.

2 thoughts on “News from Germany: Conventional Generators “Doomed”

  1. Thanks for proving the coal barons/apologists wrong on the whole Germany energy situation. Its terrible that these folks continue to mislead the public on how fossil energy is fading into the sunset and renewables are growing substantially.

    • JB,
      I was at an event in August where our friend Bill Raney went on and on about how coal exports to Germany were about to boom because the energiewende had failed. It really disturbed me that the people in the audience, who were influential educators, simply accepted what he said without reservation. I present the facts, because someone in WV has to tell people what is really happening, and that the coal industry people don’t know what they are talking about.

      HSBC is one of the biggest investment banks in the world. And they are saying that coal-fired generation is doomed. The facts don’t lie.

      There is a reason I left the Ghandi quote at the top of TPL after we killed PATH. It still applies to renewable power in WV.

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