The federal government has defended the gap in the shutdown plan for lignite-fired power plants criticized by climate protectionists. In the concept agreed upon by the federal government, the federal states and operating companies, no shutdown is planned between late 2022 and early 2025. According to a spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), this has "energy-related reasons". At the end of 2022, the last nuclear power plants will go offline as part of the nuclear phase-out.
The fact that lignite-fired power plants should not be disconnected from the grid more evenly over the years is one of the biggest criticisms of environmentalists who had worked on a phase-out concept in the coal commission. However, no shutdown plan was agreed there, only certain targets. In between, it should go "as steadily as possible", says the Commission's final report. "And there different people imagine different courses," said the spokesman for the environment ministry.
A spokeswoman for Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) referred to the parallel schedules for lignite and hard coal. On the one hand, one relies on voluntariness and on the pressure of the market. On the one hand, operators should be able to apply to switch off prematurely and then receive compensation. On the other hand, said the spokeswoman, "we are betting that there will be market-driven decommissioning". Finally, an incentive is also given to convert to natural gas. "We expect even more power plants to go out."
Criticism from the opposition
On Wednesday, the federal government and the prime ministers of the affected countries agreed on the schedule for the shutdown of the lignite-fired power plants. According to this, Germany should step out of climate-damaging electricity generation with hard coal and brown coal by 2038 at the latest. At the same time, the coal regions are to receive a total of 40 billion euros for the restructuring of their economy. The operators of coal-fired power plants receive billions in compensation for the premature shutdown of their plants: 2.6 billion euros for power plants in western Germany, 1.75 billion euros for those in the east of the country.
The plans are criticized by the opposition in the Bundestag - for very different reasons. While the FDP speaks of "planned economic climate policy" in the case of compensation, the Greens are far too slow to phase out coal. The left in turn is bothered by the payments for the energy companies. Marc Bernhard condemned climate policy as a whole for the AfD - the party is the only one in the Bundestag to take the position that greenhouse gases do not significantly drive climate change.