- Planetary alignment peaks with celestial show this weekend
- UK fighters escort Pakistan plane to airport, two arrests
- Arizona jury foreman says believed Jodi Arias was abused
- Judge rules against 'America's toughest sheriff' in racial profiling lawsuit
- Stockholm calmer but violence spreads outside Swedish capital |
German hard coal imports seen down 7 pct in 2012
* Recession, oversupply to curb demand for coal
* Coal-fired power plants must give way to wind, solar
* Coal prices and freights also down
By Vera Eckert
DUISBURG, Germany, June 14 (Reuters) - German imports of hard coal are likely to fall by seven percent year-on-year to 45 million tonnes in 2012, importers said on Thursday, citing the euro zone's economic crisis and competition from a rising share of renewable energy in power generation.
The likely total this year would be down by 3.4 million tonnes from 48.4 million in 2011, said importers group VDKI at its annual news conference.
Imports would suffer as recession-hit steelmakers would require fewer raw materials and coal use in power stations would fall as increasing amounts of solar power were being produced, said chairman Wolfgang Cieslik.
"It will be difficult to increase hard coal imports when there are fewer chances for coal-fired power stations to produce power in the summer," he said. "The solar power volumes are pressurising the market and have to be consumed first."
Under Germany's green power legislation, solar and wind power output which is volatile, has preference on the transmission grids when it is available, forcing operators of fossil-fuels based plants to reduce production at those times.
Solar power production in Jan-May is estimated at 10.5 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) compared with 7.6 billion in the same 2011 period, according to energy industry group BDEW which said that in May alone, 4 billion kWh were produced.
This results from rapid expansion of solar capacity which is politically desirable. But a debate is raging about the rising burden for energy consumers from related subsidies, which through the power price are borne by all electricity users.
German hard coal imports, which complement indigenous supplies, last year rose by 3 million tonnes from 2010 because of a still buoyant economy which especially boosted steelmakers' demand for coal and related coking coal and coke.
In that way, the imports had recaptured levels prior to the financial crisis of 2007/2008, according to VDKI.
But coal-intensive German steel output in the first four months of 2012 was down 5 percent year-on-year at 14.5 million tonnes, in reflection of the region's economic slowdown.
PRICES PRESSURED BY OVERSUPPLY OF COAL, SHIPS
VDKI executive director Erich Schmitz said that European coal prices would fall further this year due to oversupply after a mild winter and pressure from U.S. exports in the global market, where Europe's main suppliers are Colombia and Russia.
A gas glut in the U.S. makes indigenous coal there increasingly surplus to requirements, boosting exports.
European coal prices have recently fallen below under $90 a tonne - taking them back to two-year lows - and may achieve an average of $85 over the 2012 calendar year, Schmitz said.
He referred to the benchmark price reference for coal imported into northwest Europe called API 2.
Coal freight charges, an important element of global prices, should remain in a historically low $7-9 range per tonne, Schmitz added, citing relatively large fleet expansions compared to demand growth.
The prices described the typical South Africa to northern Europe shipping route, called Richards Bay-ARA.
VDKI represents 76 companies which account for 80 percent of Germany's hard coal demand.
Germany used hard coal for 18.6 percent of its power production in 2011 of 615.3 terawatt hours (TWh), said VDKI, citing industry figures.
Lignite, a brown coal type that is mined locally, contributed 24.9 percent and renewables contributed nearly 20 percent. (Reporting by Vera Eckert; editing by Keiron Henderson)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this