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Coal decommissioning milestone for Germany’s RWE

Germany has shuttered its remaining hard-coal power stations, though their lignite-fired counterparts will continue to supply power for several more years. 

RWE – one of the largest electricity suppliers in Germany – has announced it is decommissioning its last two hard-coal-fired power stations, marking another turning point in the country’s shift away from the most polluting fossil fuel.

Since the start of this year, regulations have barred RWE from selling the electricity produced at the Westfalen and Ibbenbüren power stations. However, the Westfalen station was brought online 13 times for security of supply purposes at the request of the German transmission system operator. Now, from 8 July, no coal can be combusted at either location.

‘Today marks the end of the era of hard-coal generation in Germany,’ said Roger Miesen, CEO of RWE Generation. ‘This is another important step for RWE towards climate-neutrality by 2040. We are rigorously pursuing this goal while also taking responsibility for our colleagues at both locations. Respect and thanks go to them.’

Germany is targeting a 2038 phaseout date for all types of coal-fired generation, including lignite. However, the country remains the world’s largest producer of the so-called ‘brown coal’, which has the worst emissions profile of all coal types.

By 2030, RWE says it will have taken two-thirds of its lignite-fired capacity off of the grid, resulting in the reduction of around 6,000 jobs. The company says it will carry out these redundancies in a ‘socially responsible’ manner, while also pushing ahead with the expansion of renewable generation.

Last year, renewables produced more power than all fossil fuels combined in Germany for the first time in history.

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