RWE to bring forward lignite phase-out in western Germany to 2030

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BERLIN, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- German energy company RWE will bring forward its lignite phase-out in western parts of the country by eight years to 2030, it announced in a joint press conference with federal and state government representatives on Tuesday.

Under the agreement, two coal-fired power plants that were due to be shut down at the end of the year will remain connected to the grid until the end of March 2024. This decision has been taken in light of the current energy crisis, RWE said.

"Security of supply is the order of the day. At the same time, climate protection remains one of the key challenges of our time," said Markus Krebber, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RWE AG.

Around 280 million tons of CO2 will be saved by the accelerated coal phase-out. As a result, RWE has been able to "adjust its CO2 reduction plan to the 1.5-degree path." Globally, the company is planning to invest more than 50 billion euros (49.5 billion U.S. dollars) in renewable energies by 2030.

In its coalition agreement, the German government has pledged to achieve the country's coal phase-out by 2030. "Step by step, we are ending the fossil age," the government promised just before taking office last year.

The agreement with RWE is a "milestone for climate protection," said Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck on Tuesday. As an "investment in the future," the government will seek to convert existing plants into hydrogen-capable power plants.

Certain villages in Germany that were originally supposed to be evacuated for coal mining can now be preserved. However, Luetzerath, which is already empty, will be dredged as planned.

Like other sites designated for coal mining in Germany, such as the Hambach Forest, Luetzerath was occupied by climate activists.

The non-governmental organization Friends of the Earth Germany welcomed the fact that there was "finally a more concrete plan" for phasing out coal, but said the demolition of the village is a "catastrophe."

Although the regional government in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) sympathized with the criticism, NRW economic affairs minister Mona Neubaur said: "Even if I would have wished it differently, we have to acknowledge that the reality is different and that this settlement has to be claimed."

Preservation of the village is "neither justifiable from an energy or water management point of view, nor for reasons of permanent structural stability," Neubaur added. (1 euro = 0.99 U.S. dollar) Enditem

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