Roadmap agreed for phasing out the use of coal

Federal and state governments come to agreement Roadmap agreed for phasing out the use of coal

Germany’s federal government and the four federal states in which lignite is mined have agreed at a meeting in the Federal Chancellery to a way forward to phasing out coal-fired power stations in Germany. This could make it possible to complete the phase-out three years earlier than originally planned, by 2035. Federal government is to provide 40 billion euros to support the federal states affected. Here is a round-up of what else was agreed:

A coal-fired power station in Saxony-Anhalt

Eight of the oldest coal-fired power plant blocks are now to be shut down very rapidly, with the first one closing before the end of this year

Photo: Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ending the use of coal to generate power in Germany – that is what is to be regulated by the roadmap, which Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier and Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery, presented to the four federal states in which lignite is mined.

The agreement between federal and state governments on phasing out coal was approved by the state premiers of Saxony-Anhalt (Reiner Haseloff), Saxony (Michael Kretschmer), North Rhine-Westphalia (Armin Laschet) and Brandenburg (Dietmar Woidke). The details are to be regulated in an act of parliament.

The main points of the agreement:

  • Possibility of phasing out the use of coal to generate power earlier than originally planned, in 2035
  • Agreement not to pursue open cast mining in Hambach Forest
  • Additional gas-fired power stations at the locations of existing power stations
  • Introduction of adaptation allowances for power station staff and employees working in open cast lignite mines
  • Structural Development Act (Strukturstärkungsgesetz) for coal mining regions, with financial assistance and structural development measures worth a total of 40 billion euros for the period up to 2038
  • Additional measures to supplement the draft structural development legislation, including a university medicine innovation centre in Cottbus, new Helmholtz centres in the Lausitz in Saxony and in central German mining areas, as well as a "Helmholtz-Cluster for sustainable and infrastructure-compatible hydrogen economy" in Jülich
  • New support guidelines for energy-intensive companies.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier spoke of a "historic breakthrough" at a press conference with Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. The agreement, he said, "provides legal certainty and allows actors to plan, ensuring that we meet our climate targets while guaranteeing reliable energy supplies". The agreement was made possible by the fact that the government has negotiated with power plant operators on phasing out the use of coal and has acted with the federal states affected to agree on structural development.

"Germany, one of the most effective and most successful industrial nations in the world, is now taking huge steps forward to phase out the era of fossil fuels," stressed Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. The reduction in the power generated from coal is to be offset by greatly expanding the use of renewable energy, underpinned by renewable energy forms that can be regulated. Power plant operators will receive compensation totalling 4.35 billion euros over the next 15 years for the premature closure of power plants.

"We are the first country to agree a binding end to the use of coal and nuclear power to generate electricity. That is also an important signal at international level," declared Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, praising the agreement between federal and state governments. She stressed that no region "will be left standing in the rain" and that the phasing out of the use of coal will be rendered socially acceptable. Eight of the oldest coal-fired power plant blocks are now to be shut down very rapidly, with the first one closing before the end of this year.