“Gas und Kohl, uns ist wohl!” Germany’s retour to fossil energies.

The German Bundesnetzagentur has published a very interesting Excel file listing the non-renewable power utilities that are to be built from 2012 to 2015, and also those that will be decommissioned.

Here are the numbers of fossil power stations, in MW rounded to the integer (coal means lignite + coal)

to be built:   1581 MW gas   8586 MW coal     total fossil 10167

to be removed:   220 MW gas   3215 MW coal     total fossil 3435


Balance:  + 6732 MW fossil

So the country that very few years ago wanted to save the world from the CO2 belching fossil plants, will add close to 7 GW fossil capacity (1371  MW gas and 5371 MW coal) during the next years.

Let us assume an 90% capacity factor, 450 g/kWh CO2 emissions for gas and 800 g/Kwh from coal; these numbers correspond to 0.45 metric tons CO2 per MWh for gas and 0.80 metric tons per MWh for  coal.

The annual production numbers will be 0.9*1371*8460 = 10 660 896 Mwh from gas and 0.9*5371*8640 =41 764 896 MWh from coal. So the yearly emissions will total 10 660 896*0.45 + 41 764 896*0.8 = 38 209320 metric tons of CO2 i.e. 38.2 Gt CO2 or 38.2*12/44 = 10.4 GtC (gigaton carbon)

The CARMA database shows that in 2009 Germany emitted 303 Gt CO2. So after much lamenting on the necessity to cut carbon emissions, Germany is back on the road with a healthy carbon increase.

The irony of the “Atomaustieg” is that coal ash (fly ash) is more radioactive than properly stored nuclear waste, and that people living near coal fired power stations get a higher radioactive dose than those near nuclear facilities (estimated yearly dose in the bones = 0.18 mSv).  Read this Scientific American article.
A modern 1000 MW coal fired plant equipped with scrubbers emits ca. 40 kg of radioactive material (mostly uranium and thorium) per day into the environment (see here).  So the new to be built stations will belch out approx. 200 kg of radioactive material per day or 73 tons per year;  a pity that the German Greens do not have an understanding of these problems!

A more recent research paper (2010) analysing the vicinity of three Turkish coal fired power stations concludes that “the natural radionuclide activity concentrations of burnt coal and ashes thrown out from these three power plants are quite high relative to the world average UNSCEAR data“.


19 Sep. 2012:  there were two typos in the table which gave some nasty albeit small calculation differences. This has now been corrected; the balance and conclusion are practically unchanged. I apologize and many thanks to Pierre for watching!


21 Jan 2013. Read this very interesting article in The Economist: Europe’s dirty secret  (5 Jan 2013)

2 Responses to ““Gas und Kohl, uns ist wohl!” Germany’s retour to fossil energies.”

  1. BNA Monitorbericht “Energie der Zukunft” « meteoLCD Weblog Says:

    […] This table shows that in 2011 a total of 5.4+13.1+12 =30.5 GW of fossil plants were either in construction or planned, to be compared to only 4.8 GW of renewable plants (exclusively wind)! This clearly shows that Germany, despite all the hurrah surrounding PV and wind, goes for increased fossil electrical power to compensate the shutdown of its nuclear plants (see my previous comment here). […]

  2. website.click here Says:

    Hello there! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for your excellent info you have here on
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