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German hard coal imports could rise in 2021, importers group VDKi says

FILE PHOTO: Genreal view of electricity pylons and power lines leading from the Uniper coal power plant in Hanau, Germany, early morning November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

FRANKFURT (Reuters) — Germany’s hard coal imports could rise to 35-36 million tonnes in 2021, coal importers group VDKi said on Monday, adding that the final import figures could be affected by a whole range of variables.

In January, VDKi had forecast that coal imports would fall to 26.7 million tonnes this year in Germany — Europe’s biggest coal importer — citing lower coal usage by steelmakers during the COVID-19 crisis and price competition in power generation with gas and renewables. [EL/DE]

VDKi’s latest full-year estimate would work out as an increase of between 10% and 13.2% over the 31.8 million recorded in 2020. This was based on import increases of 15.5% year-on-year seen in the January through May period, VDKi said.

«Demand in the second half of the year is very difficult to predict,» the group said in response to a Reuters enquiry.

Coal burning for electricity rose by 35.6% year-on-year in the first half of 2021, the group reported last month, as cold weather and lower wind speeds increased the need for thermal generation to cover for wind power shortfalls.

An increase in imports in 2021, if it materialised, would break a five-year pattern of consecutive annual falls, but the general trend to drive coal out of power generation in Germany remains firmly intact.


Carbon-free wind and solar power, when available, are given priority on transport grids under Germany’s climate-protection efforts.

Germany is also removing existing hard coal capacity from the market via subsidised closure tenders, while a different scheme with fixed compensations applies to domestically-mined brown coal-to-power stations.


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