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.