06 Nov 2023, 13:51
Benjamin Wehrmann

Earlier 2030 coal phase-out achievable for Germany if “future-proof gas plants” are built – RWE CEO

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Bloomberg

The CEO of Germany’s largest power company RWE insists the country can still achieve an earlier coal phase-out by 2030 if the government acts quickly to allow the construction of alternative power sources. “There’s still time and policymakers should use it,” company head Markus Krebber told newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. To replace the country’s remaining coal plants well before the official end date in 2038, Germany must install new gas-fired power plants to provide electricity only when wind, solar and other renewable installations fall short, Krebber added, pointing that these should gradually be transformed to run on hydrogen in the 2030s. “Other countries have already implemented intelligent market systems for this,” but Germany has been slow to get its own system on track, he argued. The government should quickly improve investment conditions for companies willing to build “future-proof gas plants,” which Krebber said would currently not be economically viable for RWE. There must be clarity which plants should be built when, where and by whom, Krebber said. “Otherwise, the [earlier] coal exit will become very difficult.”

The CEO’s comments follow a statement by finance minister Christian Lindner, who said the 2030 exit would remain a “daydream” if there is no other way to ensure power remains “available and affordable”. Krebber said that “speculating whether the 2030 coal exit is not possible is premature and not helpful at this point.” The power company, which runs most of the country’s remaining coal-fired power plants, has in the past year - along with the government of western German state North Rhine-Westphalia - agreed to pull the fossil fuel’s phase out forward to 2030. It is a goal which the German government “ideally” wants to achieve for the rest of the country. However, state leaders in eastern coal states have so far largely rejected an earlier end to coal power. Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck, in an interview with news agency Bloomberg, also said he does not share the finance minister’s scepticism, arguing it “absolutely” remained the government’s goal to ensure a 2030 exit is achieved.  

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