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While pointing the finger at the Amazon, how are coal plants in Germany doing?

Even being the fourth most polluting country in the world, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), Germany never tires of raising the green flag when it comes to sustainability in other countries. In recent years, the European country has suspended investments and threatened to impose other sanctions on Brazil due to deforestation in the Amazon.

However, there is a lot of internal work for Germany to adjust to its own ecological parameters. In 2019, the European country created a climate protection law, which provides for a reduction of greenhouse gases in 50 % up to 2030 and carbon neutrality up to 2050 in the country.

Despite this ecological movement, the growth in world demand for energy, stemming from the war in Ukraine, means that German plants need to burn more coal and this could delay the transition to green energy.

Green bet gone wrong

When Germany decided to change the energy matrix to less polluting options than coal plants, it invested in energy wind and solar in the first place, and gas as a second option.

The transition cost more than 1 trillion dollars, but some flaws in the process compromised energy production in the country.

“It was a fiasco. Germany installed a giant capacity where the insolation area was very low and with little wind. In addition, these facilities competed with agricultural areas”, explains Ricardo Fernandes, risk analyst and internationalist.

Another problem in this energy transition was the dependence that the country created on imports of foreign gas, especially Russian. About 50% of the fuel present in Germany comes from Russia.

At the end of June, due to the cut-off of Russian gas from Gazprom, as a way for Vladimir Putin to put pressure on the Europeans, the German Economy Ministry announced that the way out would be coal plants. The country decided to reactivate 15 them for energy production.

“It is bad to say this, but it is essential for reduce gas consumption”, informed minister Robert Habeck, who is part of the country’s green party.

Given that it is summer in Europe at the moment, Habeck warned of the energy crisis that must devastate the country next winter: “it will probably be worse than the coronavirus crisis”.

Unlike neighboring countries like France, which invest in nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, Germany , when it was under the leadership of Angela Merkel, decided to deactivate nuclear plants, due to the possible risks of leakage. An apparently sustainable option, but, in practice, it is not at all ecological and has even harmed the country’s economy, with the most expensive energy on the continent.

Dependence on fossil fuels

Even before the war in Ukraine, faced with the fall of 22% in wind production, Germany last year increased the production of coal-fired power plants by 22%.

Gas, oil and coal represent 2019% of German energy consumption. Furthermore, about 50% of the electricity produced in the country in 2021 came from fossil fuels. “The German economy is totally dependent on polluting fossils and is especially vulnerable in the face of the war in Ukraine,” Fabien Bouglé, an energy policy expert, told the French newspaper Le Figaro.

Climate consequences

In view of the strong heat waves in Europe this summer, which have already resulted in more than a thousand deaths on the continent , the discussion on global warming has returned with force to the European agenda. In this context, the production of German energy is becoming a major villain.

In addition to the deforestation of villages for the construction of mines, coal-fired power plants generate a pollution of 1.000 g of CO2 / kWh. Nuclear power plants, which were an alternative rejected by German ecologists, produce much less: around 6 g of CO2 / kWh.

“Germany will be one of the main actors in the degradation of the climate and will continue to be the ugly duckling of the European Union and the world. It is the so-called ecologists who support this disastrous model for the planet”, concluded Bouglé.

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