According to a Spiegel report, the brown coal company Leag is to receive up to 1.75 billion euros in compensation for the coal phase-out without providing any appreciable consideration in return. The magazine relies on Leag's confidential business plans from 2016. The lignite-based electricity generation provided there therefore deviates only marginally from the quantities provided for by the Federal Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier (CDU), for the planned coal phase-out law.
Nevertheless, the money should flow - for an alleged premature shutdown of lignite-fired power plants. According to Spiegel , however, there can be little talk of premature. Specifically, it is about the Leag power plants in Jänschwalde, Boxberg and Schwarze Pumpe.
A Leag spokesman dismissed the report: "The claims made by Spiegel are baseless." A spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Economics said: "We do not speculate about any business plans or scenarios for the group from 2016." The compensation payments were negotiated taking into account constitutional requirements, the exit plan still applies.
In its report, Der Spiegel relies on the so-called planning scenario S1A of the Leag of 2016, which is therefore available to the magazine. The Öko-Institut compared this scenario with the coal exit plan now negotiated between the federal government and the East German prime minister. The comparison is also available from ZEIT ONLINE. Its authors come to the conclusion that the shutdown of two blocks of the Jänschwalde power plant is planned at exactly the same time that Leag's S1A business scenario also assumed. In the case of other blocks, runtimes would be postponed rather than shortened: two other blocks of the Jänschwalde power plant should be disconnected earlier than planned in S1A, and two others later. It is similar in the case of the Boxberg power plant. The two blocks of the Schwarze Pumpe power plant are even expected to have a longer runtime than in the business scenario.
In the case of brown coal, which is still intended for electricity generation, the Leag scenario envisages a quantity of 867 million tons. According to the government's decommissioning plan, the figure is 854 million tonnes, which is only slightly less. Accordingly, the Leag would be compensated with tax money for a coal phase-out, which it would have done anyway for economic reasons.
This is "not just a climate policy scandal, but taxpayer fraud," said Kai Niebert, President of the German Nature Protection Ring and former member of the coal commission, ZEIT ONLINE. Billions of euros would be given away without consideration in order to "gold-plate" "unprofitable brown coal power plants in Brandenburg and Saxony". Niebert demanded that the coal phase-out should begin "immediately" in East Germany as well. "The shutdowns inJänschwalde, Boxberg and Schwarze Pumpe have to be brought forward by years. Otherwise no cent will flow."
The Leag contested the Spiegel report with the note that plans are now being made on other bases. "The basis for planning for coal mining and power plant use is the Lusatian district concept, which was presented by Leag in 2017 and is known to the public," said the spokesman. It clearly shows other planning horizons. However, the Öko-Institut's paper states that the Leag district concept is "very largely" based on assumptions that also form the basis for an opinion for the Brandenburg State Office for Mining, Geology and Raw Materials - and this opinion in turn "obviously" makes reference to the Contents of planning scenario S1A.