Germany urged to stand firm on coal phase-out

(EurActiv, 19 Feb 2019) The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is planning to shut down fewer coal-fired power stations than envisaged by the country’s “coal commission”. Some of its members are now urging the government to stand firm, EURACTIV Germany reports.

The coal commission’s final report, published at the end of January, stipulates that only nine gigawatts (GW) of power can be produced by coal-fired power stations by 2030, down from 43 GW today. The first intermediate target is 2022, by which time 5 GW of lignite-fired power should be shut down.

The German federal government and energy utilities are now preparing to negotiate which coal units will be shut down, and when exactly. But even before negotiations started, the two sides are already facing off.

In a joint press statement issued on Monday (18 February), the three environmental organisations represented on the coal commission called for power stations in North Rhine-Westphalia to be shut down more quickly.

Greenpeace Germany, the German association for the environment and nature conservation (BUND) and the German nature conservation association (DNR) also strongly criticised the regional government of North Rhine-Westphalia, accusing it of reneging on its commitments.

Indeed, the 5 GW targeted in the coal commission’s report already include 2 GW which would have been taken off the grid anyway, due to power plants’ ageing. This means the real objective is to cut down only 3 GW, they argue.

And environmental activists believe the cuts should take place at the power stations in Neurath and Niederaußem, both situated in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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EurActiv, 19 Feb 2019: Germany urged to stand firm on coal phase-out