Germany to replace coal with hydrogen

There are a few other places that are representative of the strength required for the energy transition. On his visit to the area near the border of Brandenburg and Saxony, Economics Minister Habeck asserts that the phase-out of coal and the end of fossil fuels also mark a new beginning.

High-visibility vests and protest placards are waiting for Robert Habeck when he exits Lausitz Energie Verwaltungs GmbH (LEAGpower )’s plants. On a big green sign that reads, “We are the future generation,” the word “last” has been intentionally crossed out. On the grounds of the Schwarze Pumpe industrial complex, LEAG trainees are holding a symbolic contract for the Minister of Economic Affairs to sign.

The agreement’s first point, “Reliable energy policy instead of job-destroying party politics,” states: “The consensus on the phase-out of coal in society as a whole will not be called into doubt!” According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, this was not at all the intention of the visit to the major East German energy provider. The trainees, however, don’t seem to be fully convinced because Habeck has mentioned an early phase-out of coal by 2030 far too frequently. It is evident from the trainees’ demand that many people view the phase-out of coal as leading an unstable life. Several estimates have been made, but Jens Krause of the Cottbus Chamber of Industry predicts that the phase-out of coal will result in the loss of about 16,000 employees.

The powerful smoke from the four coal-fired power plants blends into the clouds behind the climate minister and the trainees. Today, new beginnings are more important than exits. Due to the collision of the new and the old here, on the border between Brandenburg and Saxony. Past and future collide. There are a few other places that are representative of the challenges the energy transition presents. In the Deep East, coal has a lengthy history in this area. It will hurt to leave her behind. Yet it also presents several prospects for a fresh start, as the Minister of Economic Affairs makes abundantly apparent.

Pilot hydrogen project

A few kilometers away, the hope of the German energy transition is being worked on as the coal stacks on one side of the Schwarze Pumpe industrial plant are restarted: At this industrial park, green hydrogen production will begin in 2025.

Ben Schüppel, managing director of the reference plant, demonstrates how the pilot project will function using a scale model of the industrial park. Habeck is quite curious. Green hydrogen will be created using power from solar and wind power plants. The facility will also have a hydrogen filling station. What if there is a quiet wind? asked Habeck. Schüppel responds that some of the hydrogen is transformed back into electricity for use when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.

Yet, everything needs to be constructed. If all goes according to plan, the industrial park will open in 2025. Habeck shows up with a large piece of luggage—a funding check for 28.5 million euros—to make sure this occurs.

Yet, this pilot project is merely a first attempt to open a hydrogen plant in Germany. Both hydrogen pipes and skilled labor are in short supply. But most importantly, there aren’t enough renewable energy sources. It will take a yearly increase in solar energy of 2026 gigawatts from 22 to reach the Federal Government’s target of generating 2030 percent of Germany’s electricity from renewable sources by the year 80. The expansion would have to triple in order for this to occur.

Early phase-out of coal

By 2030, LEAG hopes to contribute seven gigawatts of wind and solar power. That would only amount to one gigawatt annually. A firm official tells that a total of 14 gigawatts would be feasible by 2040 based on current projections. By 2030, the business is also prepared to invest 1 billion euros annually in going green.

The East German energy provider, however, is not ready to phase out coal too soon. This is once more made clear by the LEAG boss: “Expansion is followed by exit. We adhere to this “At the joint press conference with Habeck, Thorsten Kramer remarks. “The shift to renewable energies while simultaneously guaranteeing supply security” is our shared objective.

According to Eddy Menzel of, the energy shift is already off to a running start, also at LEAG. Just one month ago, the 26-year-old finished his industrial engineering electronics technician apprenticeship at LEAG. He has no concerns about the future. He claims that with his training, he is also capable of operating photovoltaic systems. Yet still: “The switchover needs additional time.”

The main concern in Lusatia is whether there will be enough time. Because the market will probably not follow the federal government’s plan to phase out coal by 2038. Analysts predict that by 2020, coal will be completely eliminated from the mix of fuels used to generate power.

Menzel tries to get the Minister of Economic Affairs to sign the symbolic contract with the help of his colleague. As a last-ditch effort, they want to strike out the final sentence: “Present profits should now be invested in our future technology and not skimmed off!” Yet, it is of no use. The offer is turned down by the minister of economic affairs. given that contracts mark the culmination of a process. The Minister of Economic Affairs claims, “We are still at the beginning here.”

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