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13 Jan 2021, 13:35
Charlotte Nijhuis

Environmentalists say amendment to German fossil plants' air pollution limits too lenient

Tagesspiegel Background

The amendment for the tightening of air pollution limits for Germany's fossil power plants that is discussed in parliament on Wednesday draws sharp criticism from environmental groups, Florence Schulz writes in Tagesspiegel Background. The amendment is intended to implement an EU directive that sets limits for pollutant emissions, such as nitrogen oxides or mercury. Large combustion plants with a capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more are affected, including primarily coal-fired power plants and gas-fired power plants, but also heating plants. While the German energy industry resists expensive retrofitting measures, environmentalists see the new limits presented by the environment ministry (BMU) as a minimal effort. The values are all at the upper edge of the range allowed by the EU, said Sylvia Kotting-Uhl of the Green party and chairwoman of the Environment Committee. "It is an indictment that Germany, of all countries, which technically would have no problem converting its large combustion plants, is only doing the absolute minimum," Kotting-Uhl told Tagesspiegel Background.

The Federation of German Industries (BDI) fears that stricter air limits could spell an early end for coal-fired power plants, Tagesspiegel Background writes. The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) pointed out that the new limits exceed EU requirements, especially for mercury, but said it would “still be technically possible” to comply with the requirements for the majority of plants. German energy utility RWE is not worried about its lignite-fired power plants: "We assume that with the measures we have introduced, we will also comply with the stricter limits with our power plants remaining on the market by the deadline," a spokesperson told Tagesspiegel Background. The new regulation is set to come into force by August 18, 2021.

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