Germany’s renewable-energy drive is boosting carbon emissions by spurring coal-fed electricity generation at the expense of cleaner-burning natural gas, Lower Saxony’s environment minister said.
“What we are seeing is the schizophrenic situation of the renaissance of lignite plants while efficient power plants don’t get a chance to enter the market,” Stefan Wenzel, a member of the opposition Green party, said Sept. 11 in an interview in Munich. Lower Saxony has the biggest share of installed wind farms in Germany, according to wind power lobby group BWE.
German utilities and factories emitted 452 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the most since 2008, as coal use soared, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The nation increased its share of renewable generation to 23 percent last year from 15 percent in 2008, according to AG Energiebilanzen, an association of energy lobbies and research institutes.
Under Germany’s clean-energy law, the government guarantees above-market prices for wind, biomass and solar power generators, driving a surge in subsidized supply that’s helped push wholesale costs down 20 percent in the past year. The price drop is cutting profit at gas-fired plants as utilities turn to relatively cheaper coal to cover demand when wind and solar output slows in Europe’s biggest energy-consuming nation.