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Will the last coal power plant in Germany close before 2038?

Accelerated closing of polluting power plants in Germany

According to a document from the Bundeswirtschaftsministerium (Federal Ministry of Economic affairs and Energy), the previous forecasted date for closing the last coal power plant in 2038 will most likely occur prior to this date, according to the German newspaper "Rheinische Post" .

The closing the coal power plants seems to accelerate. – It seems the target for 2022 will be overachieved, with 7 of the 29 remaining lignite power plants going of grid, says Jarle Lysberg, chairman of the board of Ewave Holding. – The political reason for keeping these plants online was to a large extent caused by the economic challenges of the areas where lignite is extracted. – The lignite (brown coal) power plants are by far the most polluting power plants not just in Germany, but also in countries like Poland and Slovakia, continues Steinar Fretheim, advisor to Ewave. – They only keep existing to provide livelihoods for economically challenged regions, there being no financial nor environmental reason to keep them alive.

Massive subsidies to previous lignite extraction regions

In total, the federal government is to inject more than EUR 41 billion into the regions that is expected to take a hit economically from the closedowns. Only EUR 1 billion of these funds

are to be spent in regions depending on ordinary coal, reflecting the economic importance of lignite to regions predominantly located in former GDR. - To put the amount in perspective, it can fund installation of more than 42 GWp of solar energy, compared to the remaining 15 GW of lignite and coal power plants expected to remain after 2022, says Steinar Fretheim.

Transition to solar will generate more jobs

-If we look to the USA, there are now more than 250.000 jobs related to the solar energy industry vs. 50.000 in the coal industry, continues Jarle Lysberg. – In Germany, the renewable sector employed 300.000 in 2019. There is a misconception that the transition

from fossil fuels to renewables will destroy jobs, whereas the opposite is more likely. Today, a huge fraction of the energy consumption is imported to EU, from the middle East, Russia and Norway. This both ensures a steady stream of money leaving EU, as well as ensuring jobs in the exporting countries. The electrification of the EU countries will reduce the money stream and move jobs from the exporting countries to the EU. Renewable energy being local in its nature, ensures both local spending as well as increased tax revenue. That is what most people would call a “win-win”.

German politician wants to accelerate the closing

With the German federal elections coming up in September, some of the politicians are starting to compete about promising the earliest possible close-down. - Predictably, the Green Party is being most urgent, aiming at a complete termination within 2030, comments Steinar Fretheim. – But eventually, it is very likely that the market itself will make sure the final coal power plant is closed way before this date, when observing the pace we are seeing just know.

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