The German government has decided to compromise on its plans to force coal power plant operators to reduce their emissions, following protests from the coal lobby.

The economy ministry now plans to require coal-fired power plant operators to cut their emissions by 16 million tonnes by 2020, compared with a previous target of at least 22 million tonnes, according to a ministry document seen by Reuters.
Reichstag
Germany’s largest power producer RWE had warned that the severity of the initial plan would have forced the closure of its lignite plants and coal workers had marched on Berlin to protest the measures.

The levy is aimed at forcing coal operators to slash their emissions and stop Germany from falling short of its target to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

Power plants older than 20 years were also required to pay a penalty on CO2 emitted above a limit of seven million tonnes per gigawatt of installed capacity, with the oldest power plants receiving even lower exemptions. However the new proposal has raised the amount of CO2 older power stations are able to emit before the penalties kick in.

“Increasing the amount that is exempt by almost a third will significantly increase the profitability of older power stations,” the document said.

The government now plans to achieve the remaining six million tonnes of CO2 emission cuts for the energy sector by promoting the use of more environmentally-friendly combined heat and power plants, government sources said.

However the proposal is yet to be approved by the Chancellor’s office and other ministries, they said.