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23 Nov 2018, 13:51
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann

CORRECTION: German government denies media report on coal exit by 2035

CORRECTION: The news digest item on NRW's financial demands for a coal exit erroneously stated that the federal state's economy minister said NRW needs "tens of millions of euros." In fact, the state minister spoke of "tens of billions of euros."

Spiegel Online / BMWi

The German government denies a report by news website Spiegel Online that the country's coal exit commission will propose to initiate the fossil fuel's phase-out in the west of the country and favours to finish it by 2035. Germany’s economy and energy ministry (BMWi), where the commission’s secretariat is based, said in a short statement “on behalf of the commission” that “the entire report lacks any basis.”
In the article on Spiegel Online, Gerald Traufetter writes that a leaked draft of the commission’s final report says coal plants with a total capacity of 5 gigawatts (GW) will be taken offline by 2022, thereof five lignite units in the Rhenish district in western state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). After 2022, a total capacity of 37 GW remains to be closed, with a majority being switched off before 2030. Eastern German plants will only be closed after 2030, when a total of 16 GW remains, according to the article. A majority of the commission supports a proposal to complete the phase-out by 2035, when remaining plants could be transferred into a security standby reserve, writes Traufetter.
Martin Kaiser, head of Greenpeace Germany and coal commission member said in a statement that the members themselves had not seen the paper. “Closing the last coal plant in eastern Germany in 2035 is way too late,” Kaiser said, adding that only an earlier exit date would ensure that the country fulfilled its climate targets.

Find the article in German here.

For background, read the articles German government plans to postpone deadline for coal commission and Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.

dpa / Spiegel Online

Any date for abandoning coal agreed by Germany’s coal exit commission must be linked to specific conditions - and these must be fulfilled to actually implement the agreement, the state premier of Germany’s most populous federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Armin Laschet, told news agency dpa in an article on Spiegel Online. “There needs to be an if-then-clause,” Laschet said, arguing that “you cannot just say this or that will happen on some day in the 2030s.” He stressed that NRW would be ready “to support a complete package for a coal exit if the conditions for affected people and companies are acceptable” and sufficient financial means are provided to cope with structural economic changes. Laschet said that “a coal exit will be very expensive – that’s what happens when you decide to get rid of a domestic, competitive energy source for political reasons and to protect the climate.”

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW article German government plans to postpone deadline for coal commission and CLEW’s Commission watch for more information.

Rheinische Post

Ending coal mining and coal-fired power production in Germany would mean that the country’s most populopus federal state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), alone would need tens of billions of euros to cope with structural economic changes, the state’s economy minister Andreas Pinkwart told the newspaper Rheinische Post. “The 1.5 billion euros offered by the government so far are at best enough to finance an ad-hoc programme,” Pinkwart said.

Read the article in German here.

Find background in the news digest item Germany's lignite mining regions have received nearly 14 billion euros in support since 2013.

Tageszeitung

Giving in to eastern German coal states by delaying a coal commission agreement would bury hopes of  a reasonable phase-out compromise, writes Bernhard Pötter in a commentary for the Tageszeitung (taz). “This is why environmental  NGOs, participating scientists, and all others who care about climate protection, should leave the commission in this case,” writes Pötter, adding they should fight for a coal exit on the streets and in the courts. “It’s about the message: First jobs, then growth, then nothing for a long time, and then perhaps a little bit of climate protection as a green trimming.” He goes on to argue that the mining states’ demands are exaggerated. “They want 60 billion euros as structural support, but have no idea what to do with the money.”

Read the commentary in German here.   

For background, read the articles German government plans to postpone deadline for coal commission and Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.

Frankfurter Rundschau

The coal commission delay is “embarrassing for the former climate pioneer” Germany, because the government will not be able to demonstrate it is serious about climate ambitions at the UN climate summit in Poland in early December, writes Joachim Wille in the Frankfurter Rundschau. “The incident shows that the government is attempting to relegate the responsibility for the structural transition to a commission. In the end, politicians must decide what should be done and how much money they want to spend on supporting the regions.”

For background, read the articles German government plans to postpone deadline for coal commission and Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The coal commission delay shows that the government is taking the work of the commission seriously because “otherwise this spectacular intervention would have been unnecessary,” writes Andreas Mihm in a commentary in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. But the move reveals multiple failures elsewhere: Not enough communication between commission and government; too little help from the responsible ministers. “It’s astounding that it didn’t occur to anyone during months of negotiations to discuss the foreseeable financial consequences with the finance minister,” according to Mihm, adding the delay could mainly serve to establish the necessary and neglected financing, especially with a view to upcoming elections in coal states. “This is why the decision by the heads of the governing coalition to put the commission in detention can also be interpreted as a lesson in political realism.”

For background, read the articles German government plans to postpone deadline for coal commission and Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.

dpa

The business-friendly camp of Angela Merkel’s Conservatives (CDU) has warned the coal phase-out might result in a heavy burden on taxpayers, reports newswire dpa. “The proposals must remain within the clearly delineated budget framework,” said Joachim Pfeiffer, economic spokesperson of the CDU parliamentary group. “There are tendencies within the commission to agree on compromises at the expense of third parties – taxpayers and power consumers who are not represented.” The government coalition has so far agreed to support the transition in affected regions with 1.5 billion euros, while Eastern German coal mining states are calling for a 60-billion-euro fund for the coming 30 years.

Read the article in German here.

For background, read the articles German government plans to postpone deadline for coal commission and Commission watch – Managing Germany’s coal phase-out.

Gas suppliers received an average 3.42 cents per kilowatt hour for the gas they sold to final consumers in 2017, a decrease of three percent on 2016. Germany’s statistics office said households on average paid 4.96 cents, a decline of 4.4 percent. Industry prices remained largely unchanged at 2.43 cents per kilowatt hour.
The average household power price in Germany is currently almost 30 cents per kilowatt hour. Many energy experts consider this large price difference a major obstacle to using renewable power in other sectors, such as heating and transport.

Read the press release in English here.

For background, read the factsheets What German households pay for power and Sector coupling – Shaping an integrated renewable energy system, as well as the dossier The role of gas in Germany’s energy transition.

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