German coal plants face "abrupt shutdown" due to stricter mercury regulations – industry
Six German industry associations have claimed that the country's coal-fired power plants would be in danger of "abrupt shutdowns" if the federal environment ministry introduces stricter regulations on mercury emissions, reports Handelsblatt. The associations have directed a letter to environment minister Svenja Schulze in reaction to a draft on how the ministry aims to translate EU emission regulation into national law, claiming that the ministry is working from the lowest limit of emission ranges for mercury set by the EU. In the letter, the industry representatives argue that the large-scale technology necessary to adhere to such emission limits is not currently available. As early as 2016, Der Tagesspiegel reported on mercury emissions as a potential obstacle for coal-fired power plants, calling it a "plan B" for the government in case the German coal exit commission were not to reach an agreement.
Although the coal exit commission settled on a German coal phaseout by 2038 in January this year, discussions are still ongoing and power plant operators are demanding compensation payments for capacity which they would have to take offline before the end of plant lifetimes. A recent report by think tank Sandbag, however, said that the profitability of German lignite power plants has largely collapsed, with not a single unit turning a profit in the first half of 2019.