BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany dismissed on Sunday a report suggesting it planned to exit coal-fired power generation in order to protect the climate, saying this would impose too great a burden on industry as the country is also phasing out nuclear energy.
Der Spiegel weekly said Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was planning a medium-term exit from coal due to environmental concerns. Its report cited no sources.
“For a country like Germany with a strong industrial base, exiting nuclear and coal-fired power generation at the same time would not be possible,” a spokeswoman for his ministry said in an emailed statement.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is currently going through an “Energiewende”, an energy shift which moves the country towards renewable sources following a decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government wants renewable energies to make up 40-45 percent of German energy consumption by 2025 and 55-60 percent by 2035.
The Spiegel report said the government wanted to remove 10 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation, equivalent to around two dozen small power plants, from the network.
The ministry spokeswoman said it was first and foremost for the operators to decide which plants to shut down and they must then apply for approval to the federal network agency.
“It’s clear, though, that the conventional generation system must adapt to the needs of the Energiewende,” she added.
Coal-fired power accounted for around 45 percent of German power generation in 2013.
Reporting by Thorsten Severin and Victoria Bryan; Editing by Gareth Jones