East German mining state leader says ready for talks on pulling forward coal exit
Zeit Online / Clean Energy Wire
The premier of eastern German lignite mining state Brandenburg has said he is open to talks about an earlier coal phase-out under certain conditions. Energy supply must be reliable and affordable, and have a certain degree of independence to keep added value in the country, Brandenburg's Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) told dpa in an article carried by Zeit Online. “There are good proposals on the table from us and we are ready to enter talks,” Woidke said, but added that an agreement should focus on more than just a date. Germany’s coalition government agreed to try to bring the coal phase-out forward "ideally" to 2030 from the current 2038 target, but eastern coal mining state premiers have repeatedly rejected the proposal. They insist that pulling forward the phase-out by several years will not be possible as the regions lack both alternative energy generation capacities and alternative income perspectives.
Economy and climate protection minister Robert Habeck has repeatedly expressed his support for an earlier coal exit in eastern Germany following an agreement with coal plant and mine operator RWE to exit coal power in western Germany by 2030. On 22 February, he travelled to the coal region of Lusatia, which stretches between the states of Brandenburg and Saxony, to find out more about the implementation of energy transition projects in the area and to present funding for structural change. The last coal power plant closures are currently planned for 2038 in the region. Energy company Leag, which operates the power plants and opencast lignite mines, plans to build Germany's largest centre for renewable energy in Lusatia. The company’s head, Thorsten Kramer, said that under the current conditions an earlier phase-out is out of the question. “Before we talk about the phase-out, we have to ensure the expansion of renewable energy and a backup power plant park,” he explained.