German energy giant Uniper launched its new Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant in North Rhine-Westphalia on Saturday. The opening was accompanied by demonstrations in which environmental activists resented the commissioning of the new coal-fired power plant.

According to the local broadcaster WDR, about 500 protesters were present at the facility on the opening day. The night before, protesters had reflected slogans on the wall of a power plant building demanding the plant be shut down.

Uniper, for which Fortum secured a majority stake in March, defended the decision and says Datteln's new power plant will be one of the world's most modern and efficient coal-fired power plants, the production of which will allow the closure of older plants.

Swedish power activist Greta Thunberg, among others, resented the launch of the power plant on Twitter.

- This is a shameful day for Europe when a new coal-fired power plant is opened. We have signed up to lead the way to avoid a climate catastrophe and yet give the world such an example? Indeed, how dare you, Thunberg resented.

Ten year delay

Fortum's President and CEO Pekka Lundmark defended Uniper's project and said that Fortum believes that the right way to reduce emissions is to tighten the rate of reduction of emission rights. The introduction of Datteln will not increase emissions, he stressed.

- The supply of emission rights is decreasing year by year and plants are being shut down from the most inefficient end. This really reduces emissions and not just moves from one place to another, Lundmark explained.

Datteln 4 starts almost ten years behind schedule. Problems arose in the design, permitting process, and engineering.

The German government granted a start-up permit for the Datteln plant in the early part of the year. However, Germany remains committed to closing all coal-fired power plants by 2038.