Germans to End Coal Subsidies by 2018

Germany, with a population of 82 million, spends more than $3 billion/year subsidizing coal. That’s almost $400/person. From Deutsche Welle,

Government subsidies — not jobs — are to be cut back drastically and may be history as early as 2018.

I don’t know if they can actually promise to not cut jobs.

Krupp Coal Excavator
Krupp Coal Excavator

The excavator,

can excavate 240,000 tons of coal or 240,000 cubic metres of overburden daily – the equivalent of a football field dug to 30 meters (98 ft) deep. The coal produced in one day fills 2400 coal wagons….operation requires 16.56 megawatts of externally supplied electricity.

2 Responses to “Germans to End Coal Subsidies by 2018”

  1. Jon Wharf says:

    They probably don’t need to lay off current workers, but the government does need to ensure that no new workers are taken on in the coal industry, perhaps by tying such industry entrants to immediate reduction in subsidies. This could be aimed at making the subsidies reduce to zero if say 25% of the workforce is new-entrant. The tracking would need to be equal to the usual workarounds (eg. outsourcing) and any new tricks the industry came up with.

    By the 2018 limit the coal industry would likely be almost unsubsidized. Its complete closure would be not long delayed, since even importing the bulk of German electricity usage would be cheaper than using coal at that point.

    Hopefully the poor prospects of the industry would have been apparent for long enough at that point that alternative uses of human labour and ingenuity would be available. Unemployment is probably the biggest stick that the coal industry alludes to in government meetings, although I believe that the fear is worse than the reality, at least for the economy at large.

  2. Oliver says:

    It’s a bit ironic to combine the report on the end of coal subsidies with the excavator. The excavator is mostly used to mine lignite, which exists close to the surface. The subsidy black hole, however, is bituminous coal, which in Germany exists only in great depths which nowadays are below heavily settled area and the collapse of mine tunnels steadily produces damage above.

    The plan is that the holding for the coal-producing industry uses its non-coal business to produce funding necessary to pay for the coal production and the damage repair, and, after 2018, to take care for those workers who haven’t retired by then.

    Frankly, when I saw an apprentice miner on TV who wondered what he’s supposed to do with his training once he finishes it, I would have liked to slap him and ask him where he’s been living the last ten years…. He’s silly to have joined that trade to begin with. One mine after the other has been closing, so I don’t know where he gets the impression that his is a trade with future in Germany. Most likely, it’s a case of “father was miner, grandfather was miner, so I’m a miner, too.” The sad thing is that in the areas affected, new jobs ARE being generated. But most of them are in the high-tech field, and you don’t make a nanotechnician out of a miner, alas.