Big Story 10

Germany could shut down half of its coal capacity: regulator

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany could reduce its coal-fired power generation capacity by half in the coming years if planned grid expansion and the addition of new gas-fired plants come online on schedule, the head of its energy regulator said.

“Half of coal-fired power plant capacity can disappear by 2030 without any risk to supply,” Jochen Homann, president of the Bundesnetzagentur or Federal Network Agency, told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview.

His comments come ahead of a year-end deadline for a commission to submit plans to the German government for an exit from coal-fired energy.

Germany aims to raise wind and solar power’s energy share from a third now to 65 percent by 2030 to help to cut carbon dioxide emissions and achieve its climate commitments, in line with the wishes of the new coalition government.

Homann reiterated that grid expansion would be needed to meet those goals.

“If you want more green energy faster, then you have to accept grid expansion,” he told the paper.

He said the lack of grid capacity is likely to have raised the cost of ensuring a stable energy supply system to a record of more than 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) in 2017.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Goodman