Costly bid to phase out coal

Merkel is to host the premiers of Germany's coal-producing states to discuss her government's bid to phase out coal by 2038.

Spitzentreffen zu Kohleausstieg
dpa

Berlin (dpa) - Negotiations between the German government and energy providers over the country's looming phase-out of coal have yielded a rough timeline for decommissioning lignite-coal power plants, sources involved in the talks told dpa on Wednesday.

The development is expected to allow the government to progress in talks with state premiers later on Wednesday on how to support the regions that will be worst hit by the major industry overhaul.

Talks were ongoing with energy firms on the multibillion-euro sum they are hoping to receive as compensation for closing down their coal-powered plants.

Later Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is to host the premiers of Germany's coal-producing states - North Rhine Westphalia in western Germany, and Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Brandenburg in the east - to discuss her government's bid to phase out coal by 2038.

"We will only succeed in achieving an ambitious coal phase-out if we take the citizens in the affected areas with us," said Armin Laschet, the premier of North Rhine Westphalia.

Berlin is under pressure from states in former East Germany amid concerns that the policy shift could exacerbate economic inequality in the formerly divided country. Per capita gross domestic product in the former communist states has stagnated at around 70 per cent of that in the country's west for years.

A proposal to close down the lignite-fired power plant in Schkopau, Saxony-Anhalt, by 2026 has been rejected, sources involved in the talks with the energy industry said. The development that could put eastern states at ease.

A government commission recommended last year that newly built power plants not yet in operation stay that way. The proposal was made in reference to Datteln 4, a hard coal-fired power station in North Rhine Westphalia. However, this would have almost certainly required the closure of Schkopau by 2026.

The commission said more than 40 billion euros should be set aside to pay for the restructuring of the energy industry, predominantly for the affected regions, although that figure is yet to be formalized in legislation.