German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel is ready to turn to combined heat and power technology as a solution to the problem of curbing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants while saving jobs.
Gabriel said on Wednesday at an energy industry conference in Berlin that he was considering an alternative to a proposed levy on coal-fired power plants and would make a final decision on July 1.
The minister said the government will now decide between his original proposal and an alternative to gradually shut down coal-fired power stations and offer more financial support for combined heat and power plants, among with other measures.
“With the two alternative proposals, we can make a political decision. I’m certain that we will manage this on July 1 during the coalition’s consultation meeting,” he said.
The plan envisages gradually phasing out around 3.1 GW of brown coal capacity and putting it on reserve for use only in emergencies. The operators RWE, Vattenfall and Mibrag would be compensated in return
In addition, it proposes tripling support payments for combined heat and power plants — which offer carbon emissions savings through capturing heat from electricity making for re-use rather than emitting it in the air — to 1.5 billion euros.
Gabriel’s department has the difficult task of attempting to reduce CO2 emitted by the energy sector in order to meets the country’s climate targets, while retaining jobs and maintaining energy security.
He originally proposed putting a levy on CO2 emitted by the oldest and most-polluting power stations but the extent of resistance has forced a re-think.
Reuters quotes Garrelt Duin, economy minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as stating that the coal levy was now officially off the table and the alternative would still ensure that Germany achieves its CO2 savings for the sector.
Last week COSPP broke the news from an industry insider that the German government were on the brink of moderating its proposed coal levy, opening the door for the use of more combined heat and power technology in the country.
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