Germany’s RWE says too early to exit coal in 2035

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FRANKFURT, Sept 16 (Reuters) – German utility RWE, its works council and trade unions say they oppose plans to end coal-fired power generation in Germany around 2035, raising questions over a possible compromise between a government commission and environmentalists.

RWE said the date was unacceptable and more investments in grids and renewable energy were needed to secure energy supply in the future. Climate protection goals need to be balanced with the interests of customers and employees, it said in a statement.

Its remarks were echoed by trade unions and RWE’s works council.

Der Spiegel news weekly earlier reported that Ronald Pofalla, one of four heads of a government body tasked with planning Germany’s exit from coal and setting an exit date by the end of the year, had proposed to abandon coal between 2035 and 2038.

The German economy ministry declined to comment.

Germany aims to raise wind and solar power’s energy share from a third now to 65 percent by 2030 to help to cut carbon dioxide emissions and achieve its climate commitments.

Coal-to-power production both from brown coal and imported hard coal accounts for 40 percent of Germany’s total power production, making the exit from coal difficult while maintaining reliable supply to industries and households.

Germany is also abandoning nuclear power production by the end of 2022.

Utility companies such as RWE and Uniper have said they are prepared, having absorbed declining coal plant revenues due to competition from renewable power and developed their own phase-out plans stretching into the 2040s.

Environmental groups want to hasten the exit.

The commission will try to broker compromises and help allocate federal funds to bring new industries into regions that are now dependent on coal mining. (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Mark Potter)

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