BERLIN, June 9 Germany's economy minister on
Thursday rejected calls for Europe's largest economy to focus on
ending coal use in the way it plans to quit nuclear energy.
"I will not call for a commission to deal with a coal exit,"
Sigmar Gabriel told a conference of some 1,400 delegates mostly
representing power utilities.
"My proposal would be for one to deal with the question how
we create a modernisation shift in our macroeconomy out of the
need to protect the climate."
He said such a forum ought to link discussions about
economic growth and social issues with the need to further
develop Energiewende, Germany's drive towards a decarbonised
"We cannot reduce all that to the coal question," Gabriel
Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Germany shut 40
percent of its nuclear capacity immediately and announced it
would exit nuclear completely by 2022, earlier than previously
Calls have grown for Germany to set out a timetable for a
withdrawal from coal in power production as well.
A draft economy ministry document last month showed plans to
end coal-fired power generation, the most carbon-intensive form
of energy, "well before 2050".
Domestic hard coal mining will cease in 2018 and Germany's
coal miners and users expect the country's last brown coal mines
to close by around 2045.
Utilities such as E.ON and RWE plan to
close several old coal-fired power plants in the coming years
and will move 2.7 gigawatts (GW) of brown coal plant capacity
into a reserve scheme later this decade.
They also stress that the simple fact that it is difficult
to profit on generating power from coal will speed its demise.
"Coal is losing in importance, but (that means) we will have
to talk about industrial growth and social compensation,"
Government would need to create alternative business
opportunities to safeguard jobs and tax revenue in affected
areas, he said.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert; editing by Jason Neely)