18 Mar 2020, 13:45
Freja Eriksen

Investors urge Finnish utility to drop support for new German coal plant

Clean Energy Wire / taz

Eight European financial institutions have criticised the Finnish state-owned utility Fortum for endorsing the opening of the German coal-fired Datteln 4 power plant, set to be the last new coal plant in Western Europe, in an open letter. Datteln 4 is run by the utility Uniper, a future subsidiary of Fortum. Fortum currently owns almost 50 percent of Uniper, and this share is about to rise to 70 percent, writes the taz. "We believe opening the plant is not compatible with an ambitious decarbonisation trajectory and endangers the 2030 deadline for phasing out coal in the OECD – required to keep emissions within the critical 1.5°C carbon budget," wrote the investors, which include AXA Investment Managers and Aviva Investors, adding that opening Datteln 4 would be "out of step" with the German coal commission's recommendations. They also highlight that coal-fired power generation faces an increasingly negative economic outlook in Europe. Fortum's endorsement ties Datteln 4 to the Finnish state and could ultimately mean that Finland cannot reach its ambitious target of becoming climate neutral by 2035, writes Reinhard Wolff in the taz.

The Datteln 4 power plant is scheduled to go online this summer, despite Germany’s plans to phase out all coal power by 2038. The federal government and the state government in North-Rhine Westphalia argue that the plant, which has been in the works for more than a decade, will replace older, less efficient coal plants and ultimately reduce carbon emissions. But environmentalists say it makes no sense to bring a brand new source of coal power online when Germany is already struggling to meet its climate targets.

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