An energy industry road map

A few months ago, Germany’s Commission on Growth, Industry Restructuring and Employment published its final report, suggesting that the country phase out coal power production by 2038. The document, presented to the public on January 26, recommends replacing most of today’s generation capacity with gas-fired power plants. Additionally, its authors call for assisting regions affected by the changes.

One Coal Commission proposal is to stop approving the construction of new coal power plants, while another is to lower current generation capacity. At present, power plants burning brown coal have a combined capacity of 19 gigawatts and those fired by black coal provide a total of 22 gigawatts. The commission recommends cutting those numbers across Germany to 9 gigawatts of brown and 8 gigawatts of black coal by 2030 and reducing the capacity of both to zero by 2038.


“Germany needs a consensus view that has the support of a majority of the public and ensures a balanced and just transition to a new energy system guaranteeing supply over the coming decades. Reaching such consensus among all stakeholders in the sector is the only way certain to provide a predictable and reliable framework for the sector and give impetus to transforming the German energy system over the long term.”

Commission on Growth, Industry Restructuring and Employment

It seems that the commission regards hydrogen storage and power-to-gas systems as solutions that show great promise and could become a crucial part of a future energy system. Moreover, the associated technologies are available in Germany’s coal mining regions today and could provide them with excellent opportunities for job creation and economic development.

The commission’s 336-page report mentions hydrogen more than 50 times. Power-to-gas and power-to-X show up 15 and 18 times, respectively. Some concrete suggestions are:

  • Research storage technologies and power-to-X processes.
  • Use power-to-gas to support middle Germany’s natural gas pipeline system.
  • Establish a Fraunhofer research institute on energy infrastructure (at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg or Zittau/Görlitz University) and build a reference plant for hydrogen production.
  • Expand the applied research center at BTU or Zittau/Görlitz University to provide more opportunities for studying hydrogen technology.

read more in H2-international April 2019

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