NRW state premier urges quick adoption of coal exit law, defends new coal plant commissioning
The German government must fast-track legislation for the country's coal power phase-out, Armin Laschet, state premier of Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), said in an interview with the newspaper Rheinische Post. "I urge the government to agree on a binding coal exit law no later than December," Laschet said, arguing that "people and companies in the region need clarity on this major restructuring of our energy industry" and that the government had to ensure that agreed financial assistance to affected mining regions can be disbursed soon. Laschet said the commissioning of Uniper's new Datteln 4 coal plant in NRW would not contradict Germany's coal exit. "Datteln 4 will lead to reduced emissions," Laschet said, arguing that the modern hard coal plant will be used to allow taking older and less efficient lignite (brown coal) plants off the grid sooner. "The operator company is offering that," Laschet said, adding that "reason" in climate policy was needed more than "symbols."
In January 2019, Germany's coal exit commission agreed on a roadmap to end coal-fired power production no later than 2038, but key details of the plan still remain controversial among the government coalition parties. Construction of the Datteln 4 power plant by operator Uniper began in 2007 and the unit was originally scheduled to be operational in 2011. But the project costing 1.5 billion euros was delayed several times and is now expected to start operating by mid-2020.