Skip to content!

Declining Role of Lignite Power Generation: No Need for New Power Plants or Open-Cast Mines

Press Release of November 28, 2012

In an electricity industry increasingly characterized by renewable energy sources, there is much controversy surrounding the future of lignite in Germany. In all three lignite mining regions (Rhineland, central Germany, and Lausitz), there are plans for new lignite-fired power stations and open-cast mines. A study conducted by DIW Berlin comes to the conclusion that construction of new lignite-fired power stations is not economically viable, however. Taking the transmission system restrictions into consideration, the geographical location of Germany's lignite mining regions is also unfavorable. Finally, the use of lignite makes it more difficult to achieve the CO2 emissions reduction targets set by the German government. Cancellation of demonstration projects to capture, transport, and store CO2 has defeated previous hopes for low-emission lignite power generation. The approved quantities of lignite to be mined are sufficient to supply existing power plants in all lignite mining regions until the end of their lifetime. Consequently, there is no need for any new open-cast lignite mines. The task of policy-makers now is to actively support forwardlooking structural change in the regions concerned.