German firm RWE to ditch coal power by 2030

German energy giant RWE brought forward its exit from coal power to 2030 on Tuesday amid fears the country's plans to abandon fossil fuels are wobbling following the energy crisis caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Mining machinery in the Garzweiler open pit lignite mine, with the Neurath lignite-fired power plant in the background.
Mining machinery in the Garzweiler open pit lignite mine, with the Neurath lignite-fired power plant in the background. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

Russia’s curtailing of gas exports to Germany in the wake of the Ukraine war has forced Berlin to make the radical decision to restart mothballed coal
power stations, at least temporarily.

“As more coal is needed in the short term, thereby leading to rising carbon dioxide emissions, we will need an earlier coal exit because this is the only way to continue to achieve the country’s climate protection goals,” RWE chief executive Markus Krebber told a press conference.

“We, as RWE, are making a significant contribution to this — we will end coal-based power generation in 2030,” he added, bringing forward the company’s plans by eight years.

Germany began winding down its coal-fired power plants a few years ago with a view to eventually ending usage of the fossil fuel.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended plans as Moscow reduced energy exports to Germany in what Berlin believes is retaliation for its support for Kyiv.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has authorised the restart of 27 mothballed plants or those put in reserve to help fill the energy gap until March 2024.

Bringing Germany’s planned coal exit forward from 2038 to 2030 was one of the central pledges of Scholz’s coalition government when it was elected last year.

RWE on Saturday said it had signed a purchase agreement for the Clean Energy Business affiliate of New York-based Con Edison, a deal valued at $6.8 billion that would significantly boost its US renewables portfolio.

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Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

 “We are in the process of asking the NATO Secretary General to set up a coordination office for the protection of underwater infrastructure,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press conference in Berlin.

“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should believe that attacks will remain without consequences,” he said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the alliance would be “an informal initiative to exchange between civilian and also military actors” with NATO providing “a centre, a coordination point”.

Underwater cables and pipelines were “arteries of the modern economy” and it was necessary to create “a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure”, he said.

Scholz said he and Store would propose the plan to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is due in Berlin for a security conference. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm were targeted by two huge explosions at the end of September.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected
retaliation to Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Although they were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

Several European countries have since taken steps to increase security around critical infrastructure. 

The G7 interior ministers warned earlier this month at a meeting in Germany that the Nord Stream explosions had highlighted “the need to better protect our critical infrastructure”.

Norway has become Europe’s main gas supplier in the wake of the war in Ukraine, taking the place of Russia.

The Scandinavian country has a vast network of pipelines, stretching for almost 9,000 kilometres, linking it to the continent, which experts have said are at risk of sabotage.