Germany makes plans for coal phase-out

The German environment minister Barbara Hendricks says the government is working out a plan aimed at removing coal from its power generation mix by mid-century.

The government is talking to industry groups and trade unions as it commences work on a climate action plan for 2050, set to be launched next summer.

"It is completely clear that we need to exit fossil energy sources by the middle of the century," Hendricks said, adding Germany needed to find a way to cushion the social impact in some regions.
Barbara Hendricks and Angela Merkel
Germany’s dependency on coal is seen as a contradictory phenomenon as so much of the country’s energy policy has evolved in favour of renewables.

In January of last year minister Hendricks  said that while the energy transition’s dependence on coal power was ‘undesirable’, it was necessary for the country’s stability, particularly as “we can no longer expect gas to flexibly complement eco-energy.”

“Gas is unprofitable while coal is booming. We must not demonize coal. We still need to transition to a guarantee security of supply,” she added then.

One quarter of its electricity was produced by wind and solar power in 2014 but the phasing out of nuclear power saw an increase in reliance on coal-fired power plants to bridge the gap.

The coal sector accounted for around 44 percent of electricity generated in Germany in 2014.

Faced with opposition from unions in coal-producing states, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel dropped a proposal to impose penalties on the oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants in July. Instead, it will set up a coal-fired electricity reserve.

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