By 2038 at the latest, electricity generation from burning climate-damaging coal should be over in Germany. The Greens are continuing to put pressure on the exit as early as 2030.
The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag is aiming to bring forward the phase-out of coal in the east of the country to 2030. In a draft resolution for the parliamentary group’s closed meeting next week, it says that this is a “necessary step to achieve the climate goals”. The ARD “Capital Studio” and the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” had first reported on it.
Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) described an earlier exit from coal as “completely illusory” – not least because of the loss of Russian pipeline gas after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The Secretary General of the Saxon CDU, Alexander Dierks, said that bringing this forward would destroy planning security for the coal regions and jeopardize successful structural change. “This action is ideology-driven and destroys trust in democratic decisions.”
The deputy chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Lukas Koehler, has already emphasized: “Whether the coal-fired power plants can be shut down depends solely on the question of whether sufficient replacement capacity will be available by then.” Security of supply is non-negotiable. “Therefore, the Greens should rather work with us to expand renewable liberation energies and the new gas-fired power plants that are absolutely necessary for the phase-out of coal, instead of wanting to dubiously set new annual figures in law.”
The paper by the Greens parliamentary group, which meets in Weimar from Tuesday to Thursday, states that an earlier phase-out of coal not only makes sense in terms of climate policy, but also provides planning and investment security for local people and regions in view of new developments. The assumption that coal-fired power generation will be economical by 2038 has become obsolete.
Criticism from East German lignite countries
In the affected federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, however, an earlier exit is viewed very critically. It is “simply not explained how we want to achieve a self-sufficient energy supply,” Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Haseloff told the German Press Agency on Saturday at the sidelines of a media conference in Tutzing, Bavaria. The scenario of an early exit from coal is “completely illusory” after the Russian pipeline gas, a crucial building block as a bridging technology, was lost, which was also the prerequisite for the original target of 2038.
Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) also reacted negatively to the initiative. “We must not saw off the branch we are sitting on. No earlier exit without a secure power supply 365 days a year, 24 hours a day,” Woidke told the newspaper “Welt” (Monday).
As an alternative to lignite-fired power plants, the paper by the Greens group talks about “hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants”, i.e. power plants that can initially generate electricity through gas combustion, but later also from hydrogen. It is foreseeable that eastern Germany will become a region where green hydrogen is produced. “Wherever lignite is still burned today, the experience and network infrastructure can be used. This entry secures countless jobs in the power plant sector.”
But there are doubts about that, too. It would be years before power plants could produce green hydrogen, Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Woidke told the ARD capital studio. With a view to modern gas-fired power plants, he said: “So first of all, power plants will be built that will burn gas at least in the next few years,” said Woidke. That would further increase Germany’s dependency on foreign countries – “regardless of which foreign country”.
In the energy transition, great hopes are placed in hydrogen, which is produced from renewable energies. In the future, it could also be used to generate electricity. At present, however, the energy source produced from green electricity is scarce and relatively expensive.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.