Germany will reactivate a number of its "brown coal" power plants in the hopes of staving off winter power shortages, media in the country is now reporting. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)


Germany to fire up ‘brown coal’ power plants over energy shortage fears


Germany will reactivate a number of its “brown coal” power plants in the hopes of staving off winter energy shortages, media in the country is reporting.

The move has prompted an outcry in Germany, with lignite – known as brown coal – being one of the least environmentally friendly forms of energy available to the country.

Justifying the decision, the German Government described the reactivations as being “precautionary”, with ministers insisting that efforts will be taken to offset the resulting additional CO2 emissions in the future.

The extension is set to come into force in October, with the coal plants due to operate through the winter and up to the end of March 2024.

It will represent the second year the lignite plants have had to be reactivated in order to ensure energy shortages are avoided. It is hoped the return of the plants to the power grid will help the country save natural gas for heating homes and powering businesses.

Many climate-conscious Germans lashed out at the latest decision. They took aim at the country’s Greens party, which has worked to dismantle what is left of the state’s nuclear power sector over the past few years.

Despite facing ongoing energy supply issues linked to the war in Ukraine, the country opted to shut down its three remaining nuclear plants earlier in 2023.

“Clean nuclear power off – CO2 dirt-throwers on!” remarked Christian Doleschal, an MEP for Germany’s Christian Social Union (CSU) Party.

“You couldn’t make it up …” he added.

Since axing its atomic sector, Germany has become a net importer of electricity on the European continent, with its renewables sector unable to effectively replace more traditional forms of energy generation.

Much of this imported power originates in neighbouring France, a slightly ironic turn of events considering the increasing dominance of nuclear power in the French electricity grid.

According to a report by specialist industry paper Zeitung für Kommunal Wirtschaft, France exported around one million megawatts of electricity to Germany in June 2023 alone.

France was Europe’s largest energy exporter that month, sending 7 terawatts of power overall to various nations across the continent.