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Germany's dreams of switching to 100% clean electricity are falling apart

European Union (, - Germany’s plans to switch to producing only clean electricity by 2035 are collapsing. Before it even started, the construction of hydrogen power plants faced reality.

“In early August 2023, the German government triumphantly announced that the European Commission had essentially given the green light to a plan to subsidize standby power plants,” writes Euractiv. This meant that Berlin could replace coal and gas stations with hydrogen ones and financially support them. They discussed the construction of hydrogen power plants with a capacity of 8.8 GW, as well as the re-equipment of gas thermal power plants with a capacity of 15 GW. All this power represents about a third of Germany's peak electricity demand, and clean power plants would operate when solar and wind generation were down.

But these plans are collapsing due to the protracted budget crisis, the publication reports the words of Siegfried Russwurm, president of the German industrial association BDI. He explained that the “promised decisive breakthroughs” ended with the industry not receiving an answer to any of the main questions.

“Since hydrogen power plants are likely to produce electricity only during periods of weak wind and solar generation, they are unlikely to be profitable without government support. And the 7 billion euros planned for the power plant annually “evaporated” after a ruling by the German Supreme Court, which limited the government’s use of credit lines approved during the Covid-19 crisis,” continues Euractiv.

Siegfried Russwurm explained that timing is crucial in the construction of hydrogen power plants, but the business models and financing of future stations are still not clear, so the stations simply will not be built. The head of BDI suggested that Germany would thus again rely on coal-fired power generation.

“This could be another blow to German industry after the country completed its nuclear power phase-out last year and was forced to cut supplies of cheap Russian gas,” the publication said.

“It would be strange and awkward if Germany, a country with one of the most ambitious decarbonization strategies, ends up depending on the continued operation of its coal-fired power plants,” said Siegfried Russwurm. The head of BDI added that even converting gas power plants to hydrogen would be an extremely expensive undertaking: “I’m not even talking about the cost of hydrogen, which we don’t have, but only about the investment costs of these new gas turbines and their new infrastructure.”

“Ultimately, this means that Germany's plan to completely phase out coal power by 2030 is unlikely to be realized. Instead, Germany will have to continue to rely on gas-fired power plants to meet growing electricity demand,” writes Euactiv.

Germany's dreams of switching to 100% clean electricity are falling apart