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23 Nov 2021, 13:18
Kerstine Appunn

City of Hamburg needs to reduce coal use faster before 2030 exit – legal experts

Clean Energy Wire / Hamburger Abendblatt

The city of Hamburg needs to immediately start reducing the use of coal in its two main heat and power stations to be in line with the city-state’s coal phase-out plan for 2030, a legal expert opinion commissioned by Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), the Cooperative Energy Network Hamburg and the “Tschüss Kohle” (Goodbye coal) initiative found. Hamburg’s climate action law obliges the city to not only phase out coal-fuelled power generation by 2030 but to also "avoid as far as possible the use of heat produced directly from hard coal or lignite even before the expiry of the [2030] deadline.” At present, however, there is no plan to reduce the use of coal at the Tiefstack power plant, the three organisations say, and power production figures from the other plant at Wedel show no significant trend towards a coal use reduction, despite operator Wärme Hamburg’s decision to burn less coal from 2021 onwards. “The Senate must act quickly now to comply with the Hamburg Climate Protection Act: Firstly, it must urgently determine the potential for immediate coal reduction in Tiefstack, and secondly, it must set short-term targets for Wärme Hamburg that will lead to effective coal avoidance in Wedel,” said Wiebke Hansen from Tschüss Kohle. While the Left Party agreed with this plan, CDU energy politician Stephan Gamm warned that a reduction of coal energy would have minimal effects on the climate but would “further fuel the currently dramatic price development for energy,” Hamburger Abendblatt reports.

Germany's federal coal phase-out date (currently under revision by the parties negotiating the next German government coalition) is 2038 but many states and cities have set themelves different exit dates. The city of Hamburg has seen one of the most drastic investment decisions regarding Germany's coal phase-out, which compelled operators of the Moorburg power plant, built in 2015 as one of the most modern in the country, to shut down operations and turn the plant into a green hydrogen production site.

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