The German coal conundrum: the status of coal power in Germany’s energy transition

Germany has drawn international attention for its energy policies in recent years. The term Energiewende – the country’s transition away from nuclear power to renewables with lower energy consumption – is now commonly used in English. The focus, however, has recently shifted to the role of coal in Germany. Over the last two years, media both in Germany and abroad have spoken of a possible “glowing future” for coal power and a “coal comeback” in Germany. From the decision to phase out nuclear power, observers conclude “that domestically produced lignite… is filling the gap”. Indeed, statements made by German politicians over the past decade also suggest that these coal plants were intentionally built to replace nuclear plants.