August 22, 2018 / 1:39 PM / a month ago

Germany can't rely on neighbours to make up power supply gap - energy group

* Producer lobby says EU neighbours may also be short of power

* Berlin’s coal phase-out commission to meet on Thursday

* Green power capacity is growing but not reliable

By Vera Eckert

FRANKFURT, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Germany would not be able to count on neighbouring European countries to make up for tighter electricity capacity if it decides to pull the plug on coal-fired power stations in the next decade, energy industry association BDEW said on Wednesday.

In a statement issued the day before a meeting of a government-appointed commission to discuss a timetable for withdrawal from coal burning, BDEW noted Germany’s neighbours were themselves due to close conventional power plants.

The comments reflect a debate in Germany over when to abandon coal-burning to meet ambitious climate goals by 2030, as Germany also wants to be free of nuclear energy by 2022.

“All EU countries aim correctly to expand renewable energies,” said Stefan Kapferer, managing director of BDEW, which represents 1,800 utility companies including the likes of E.ON and RWE.

“Consequently, our neighbours in Europe are also about to reduce their conventional, secure capacities.”

BDEW has repeatedly warned of a rising gap between Germany’s conventional capacity and demand by the early 2020s that it says could cause supply disruptions. And it has called for other sectors, namely transport, to make more emissions savings.

As remedies for power shortages, BDEW has proposed more gas-fired generation, low-pollution combined heat and power, energy storage facilities, measures to make demand more flexible and faster construction of transport grids.

The EU’s power sector as a whole is set for a fall in its coal-to-power capacity to 105 gigawatts (GW) in 2025 from 150 GW in 2016, BDEW cited research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) as saying.

By 2030, capacity should fall by a further 63 percent to 55 GW. Renewables such as wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels are expanding, but while they can supply an increasing share of demand under favourable weather conditions, can be next to no green power when conditions aren’t conducive.

BDEW said the whole of northwest Europe was often simultaneously exposed to similar weather conditions, making it unlikely that Germany’s neighbours would generate more green power if Germany was short.

Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by David Holmes

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