RWE chief says ending coal power is ‘unnecessary’

RWE’s Chief Operating Officer has dismissed calls for coal-fired power generation to be phased out completely. Rolf Martin Schmitz

Rolf Martin Schmitz told Reuters at an industry event in Germany, "I think the whole debate (about exiting coal) is unnecessary.”

"I'm very relaxed about this," he added. "I don't think that politicians will react to this. RWE has a clear plan (for coal) until 2050. We are able to provide sufficient power at decent prices until then."

Fresh demands were made for Germany to completely exit coal at the CPO21 talks in Paris last month, however brown coal and imported hard coal together still accounted for 42 per cent of the German energy mix in 2015. Renewables account for 30 per cent.

Coal accounted for 60 per cent of electricity production at RWE in 2014, while the share at rival E.ON was 27 per cent.

The utilities have stressed that steps undertaken in 2015 to move domestic brown coal plants into a reserve scheme later this decade, as well as dismal power generation profits, were sufficient to see the gradual end of coal burning.

Schmitz' belief that the politicians were on the same page were confirmed later when economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said coal should not be tackled in similar "seismic waves", referring to Germany's decision to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 in a move that has been described as too fast.

"We need to be aware of what is needed to have a stable energy supply," he said, adding, "When we're talking about the future of coal I would advise being less ideological about it and to focus more on climate goals and the economic consequences."




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