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07 Dec 2023, 13:03
Benjamin Wehrmann

Delayed gas plant planning threatens agreed 2030 coal phase-out in western Germany – state premier

dpa / Zeit Online

The German government must quickly present a strategy for the building of new gas-fired power plants to avoid missing the 2030 end date for coal-fired power production in western state North Rhine-Westphalia, state premier Hendrik Wüst warned.  “We need clarity on this no later than next year,” the conservative Christian Democrat (CDU) politician told news agency dpa in an article published by Zeit Online. North Rhine-Westphalia alone needs six new gas plants and construction usually takes between five to six years, meaning decisive steps must be taken before 2025 to meet the 2030 deadline, he argued. “So far, we’ve been waiting in vain.” A planned strategy for Germany’s power plant planning, including new hydrogen-ready natural gas plants, recently had to be delayed due to the government’s ongoing budget crisis. “There can be no phase-out without a phase-in,” Wüst said, stressing that supply security overrides all other targets. Moreover, the government must also present a grid development plan to ensure new plants can be supplied with fuel, first with natural gas and later with hydrogen, of which a large share is expected to come from sea ports in the Netherlands and Belgium. “Grid operators in our western neighbour countries are ready to go ahead,” Wüst said. He added that his state is also pushing ahead with renewable power expansion and commissioned 278 new wind turbines this year.

Wüst, together with federal economy and energy minister Robert Habeck, in 2022 presented a plan for phasing out coal in North Rhine-Westphalia by 2030, eight years before the fossil fuel’s official end date in the country. The government coalition has said it “ideally” wants to pull forward the exit date for the entire country, including in eastern coal states. However, state governments there have so far been reluctant to commit to an earlier date.

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