03 Jan 2023, 13:25
Carolina Kyllmann

Earlier coal phase-out in eastern Germany needed “for economic reasons” – state env minister

MDR / Clean Energy Wire

The environment minister of Saxony favours an early termination of coal-fired electricity generation in the eastern German state, arguing that coal mining is becoming unprofitable, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by MDR. Minister Wolfram Günther  from the Green Party told dpa that “for economic reasons, lignite-based power generation in central Germany and Lusatia will end well before 2038,” adding that “companies are reaching the point where it simply no longer pays off.” His statement follows a call from Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck (Green Party) for pulling forward the country’s coal exit to 2030 from 2038 – as established by law – in the east of the country, which has repeatedly been rejected by Saxony’s state premier Michael Kretschmer (CDU) and other eastern German state premiers.

According to Günther, Saxony should rapidly expand renewable energy generation and adapt its economic restructuring in a way that allows the state to remain an energy production and industry area by counting on inexpensive clean electricity. “Coal is flying out of the markets. But the coal phase-out can be shaped politically so that it is socially just and offers economic prospects,” Günther said. “The coal phase-out before 2038 is no longer a question of whether, but only of how.” Germany's official target is to phase out coal by 2038 at the very latest, but the country's coalition government wants to pull that date forward, "ideally" to 2030.

An agreement was reached in October 2022 with western coal mining and heavy industry state North Rhine-Westphalia to bring the phase-out forward to that date. However, state premiers from eastern coal regions, which are economically weaker and more dependent on coal mining as a source of income, launched a joint appeal in December 2022 in which they warned that the energy crisis makes an early phase-out of the fossil fuel too risky for the country’s energy supply.

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