Energy Dilemma

Secret Power Talks

coal water cooling towers energy power stations Source ullstein
This brown coal power plant may be be shut down in the future.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    There is growing concern that Europe’s largest economy will face power shortages if it goes ahead with a planned levy on coal-fired power generation.

  • Facts


    • Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is to host a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the safety of Germany’s energy supply.
    • Energy providers warns that the levy, aimed at cutting carbon emissions by 22 million tonnes, could endanger Germany’s power supply.
    • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s department is sounding out possible alternatives to the levy.
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It may look like squaring a circle.

Germany, as part of its bold plan to wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050, wants to exit nuclear power by 2022, slap a levy on the most polluting coal-fired power plants so that it can cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 – but also safeguard its power supply.

But how? The question was considered at a secret meeting on Tuesday between economics minister and Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel and his deputy Rainer Baake, the green policy expert he hired to speed up the transition to renewable energy, together with Jochen Homann, president of the electricity network regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA).

After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022, favoring renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, instead. But the planned levy, which aims to discourage utilities from producing CO2, is deeply controversial. Energy companies say it will hit power generation and cost thousands of jobs.

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