German coal importers do not expect supply problems, despite the EU embargo on coal imports from Russia that has come into force. “Coal is available on the world market,” said Alexander Bethe, Chairman of the Board of the Union of Coal Importers (Verein der Kohlenimporteure, VDKI), in an interview with the German agency DPA the day before, August 10.
According to him, the United States, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Colombia are currently the main suppliers of this energy carrier to Germany.
According to VDKI data, in 2021 Russia provided almost half of coal and coke supplies, about 17 percent came from the US and more than 13% from Australia.
Imports of Russian coal last year reached almost 20.5 million tons, from January to May 2022 inclusive, Russia supplied about 7.2 million tons of hard coal to Germany.
Back in April, the European Union announced an embargo on the import of Russian coal and other solid fossil fuels as part of the fifth package of sanctions imposed on Moscow in connection with a special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. On August 10, the ban came into force, before that, the parties were allowed to fulfill contracts concluded before April 9.
According to the European Commission, the embargo will affect 25 percent of all Russian coal exports worth 8 billion euros per year.
Even in the absence of coal supplies from the Russian Federation, the German Importers Union is counting on a “significant increase in monthly import volumes” from September. This, according to Bethe, is due to the temporary commissioning of coal-fired power plants in Germany, which were previously mothballed, but were in reserve.
At the same time, the head of the VDKI fears that deliveries could be hampered by logistical problems, including a lack of loading and unloading capacity at seaports and on board river barges, as well as limited availability of rail cargo space.
Coal-fired power plants will help Germany save gas and fill storage. This, as reported EADailythe Chancellor said in July Olaf Scholz. Berlin has previously advocated a climate-protection early phase-out of fossil fuels, but declining gas supplies to Europe’s largest economy have changed the German authorities’ minds.