07 Oct 2022, 14:37
Benjamin Wehrmann

Second east German state government leader rejects faster 2030 coal phase-out

dpa / Die Welt / Clean Energy Wire

The state premier of Brandenburg, Germany's second largest coal mining region, has rejected calls to bring the end of coal use forward to 2030, becoming the second east German regional government head to do so. Earlier this week, the Western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) had agreed to end the use of coal by 2030 rather than 2038, the end-date enshrined in Germany's coal exit agreement.

Dietmar Woidke from the Social Democrats (SPD), said pulling the coal exit forward eight years like in western North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) would not be an option for his state. “Security of supply currently is the focus. Our lignite from the Lusatia region does an indispensable job here,” Woidke told news agency dpa in an article carried by Die Welt. The 2020 coal exit agreement in Germany timed a phase-out completion by 2038 or possibly 2035 and the new government that entered office in 2021 said it would aim to pull the exit forward to 2030. But while western NRW said it will manage to comply with this aim, eastern regions appear to be more wary in light of the energy crisis fueled by Russia’s war on Ukraine. After Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony already rejected the idea, Brandenburg’s state premier confirms that an accelerated coal exit currently is no option, a position that was underlined by the re-firing of a lignite plant in the state on Thursday by operator LEAG in a bid to strengthen the region’s energy security. At the same time, Woidke stressed that gas could no longer be seen as a bridge technology, calling instead for a resolute ramp-up of renewable power generation capacities. “New gas plants are neither climate neutral nor do they bring us economic or social stability,” he argued. “Instead, we finally need a faster buildout of renewables to achieve energy independence.”

NRW’s state government earlier in the week together with energy company RWE announced that the state aims to shutter its coal-fired power plants by 2030, but would have to refire lignite plants in the short term to backup the power system. RWE said it will commit to investing in renewables and new gas-fired, H2-ready power plants. Eastern Saxony-Anhalt rejected the idea of an earlier exit a day later, saying the 2038 framework is “realistic” and was agreed with broad societal consensus that could not be abandoned in the energy crisis.

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