German minister acknowledges exit strategy from coal power needed

Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks has provided more clarity on the country’s plans for coal-fired power over the coming decades.

“Coal will still be needed as a bridge towards a new energy era. But we’re all aware that this bridge will end,” Hendricks told an energy conference in Berlin.

“We have to organise a way out of coal – for employees, regions, investors and companies … I’m currently in talks to do that,” she added.
Merkel and Hendricks
Her comments on coal power have been consistent over the last few years. In 2014 she indicated the government’s position on the subject saying, “Gas is unprofitable while coal is booming. We must not demonize coal. We still need to transition to a guarantee security of supply.”

In a similar call earlier this week, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said “When one considers the future of coal, I would urge that you do so less from an ideological standpoint and to think more about the economic consequences.”

The German government had come under more pressure following COP21 to drop its dependency on coal power, which is working in parallel to the country’s growing share of renewable power.

Hendricks declined to commit to a set date, but said a proposal by energy think-tank Agora Energiewende to withdraw from coal in power production by 2040 was “helpful”.

That proposal envisaged gradually removing around 3 GW of coal power from the market per year from 2018, equivalent to closing around three to four large power plants.

The coal sector still accounts for around 40 percent of electricity generated in Germany and is viewed as an important pillar for a stable power supply, as the country exits nuclear power and moves towards renewable sources of energy.

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