Handelsblatt Exclusive

Leader Rejects Call to Shutter Coal Plants

Die nordrhein-westfälische Ministerpräsidentin Hannelore Kraft (SPD) spricht am 18.12.2015 in Marl (Nordrhein-Westfalen) bei einem Festakt auf der Zeche Auguste Victoria. Die Zeche wird heute mit einem Festakt und dem Fördern der letzten Kohle geschlossen. Foto: Roland Weihrauch/dpa +++(c) dpa - Roland Weihrauch
North Rhine-Westphalia's state premier, Hannelore Kraft, at the closing of the Auguste Victoria colliery in her state last December.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Germany’s plan to power itself with renewable energy is proving to be a difficult transition, particularly for the coal industry.
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  • Facts

    Facts

    • Hannelore Kraft is the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, home to a significant brown coal industry.
    • She rejects the idea of phasing out fossil fuels in the medium term as part of the country’s shift to renewable energy.
    • In 2011, Germany announced plans to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 and draw at least 80 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050.
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    Audio

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Hannelore Kraft, the premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, cares deeply about energy policy. That’s because the issue has huge economic implications for her state, Germany’s most populous and one of the biggest coal-producing regions in Europe.

Ms. Kraft, a member of the center-left Social Democrats, discussed the implications of Germany’s commitment to move toward renewable energy sources. In an exclusive interview, she rejected demands to shutter the coal industry more quickly by junior coalition partners, the Green Party.

Handelsblatt: When will Germany’s last coal-powered plant go offline?

Hannelore Kraft: That is a decision for companies that operate coal-powered plants. But I  imagine that the last one in North Rhine-Westphalia will cease operations around 2050, because the mining of brown coal, or lignite, will also end about then. But that can’t be said today with absolute certainty, because there are still unknowns.

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