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Germany's dash for coal: Exploring drivers and factors

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  • Pahle, Michael
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    Abstract

    The German electricity sector has recently seen extensive planning and construction of new coal-fired power plants. Within a period of only a few years, new investments amounting to around 15% of the total sector capacity were brought on the way, and plans for a multitude of additional projects are pending. This 'dash for coal' in Germany has raised considerable public concern, especially as it risks to undermine recent political attempts to combat global warming. Yet, the question of why the dash for coal has emerged has not yet been addressed in a thorough analysis. This article attempts to close this research gap, while at the same time contributing as a case study to the general understanding of investment patterns in liberalized electricity markets. It finds that the main reasons for the dash have been (1) replacement requirements due to the nuclear phase out, (2) the onset of a new investment cycle in the power market, (3) favorable economic and technological prospects for coal compared with natural gas in the long run, (4) a status-quo bias of investors in regard to future renewable deployment, (5) explicit political support for coal, and (6) the ineffectiveness of public protest in hampering new projects.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 3431-3442

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:3431-3442

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    Keywords: Germany Dash for coal Investments in electricity markets;

    References

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    1. Bode, Sven, 2009. "Nucs down in Germany--Prices up in Europe?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2492-2497, July.
    2. Hadjilambrinos, Constantine, 2000. "Understanding technology choice in electricity industries: a comparative study of France and Denmark," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(15), pages 1111-1126, December.
    3. Hans-Joachim Ziesing & Felix Christian Matthes, 2003. "Energiepolitik und Energiewirtschaft vor großen Herausforderungen," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(48), pages 763-769.
    4. Hoffmann, Volker H., 2007. "EU ETS and Investment Decisions:: The Case of the German Electricity Industry," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 464-474, December.
    5. Neuhoff, K. & Keats, K. & Sato, M., 2006. "Allocation, incentives and distortions: the impact of EU ETS emissions allowance allocations to the electricity sector," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0642, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    6. Hamm, Gregory & Borison, Adam, 2008. "The Rush to Coal: Is the Analysis Complete," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 31-37.
    7. Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
    8. Sijm, J. & Neuhoff, K. & Chen, Y., 2006. "CO2 cost pass through and windfall profits in the power sector," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0639, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
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    Cited by:
    1. Westner, Günther & Madlener, Reinhard, 2012. "Investment in new power generation under uncertainty: Benefits of CHP vs. condensing plants in a copula-based analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 31-44.
    2. Fan, Lin & Norman, Catherine S. & Patt, Anthony G., 2012. "Electricity capacity investment under risk aversion: A case study of coal, gas, and concentrated solar power," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 54-61.
    3. Pahle, Michael & Fan, Lin & Schill, Wolf-Peter, 2011. "How emission certificate allocations distort fossil investments: The German example," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 1975-1987, April.
    4. World Bank, 2011. "Climate Change and Fiscal Policy : A Report for APEC," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2734, The World Bank.

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