EU approves German plans to shut down eight coal-fired power plants

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The European Union on Friday gave approval to plans by Germany to subsidise the closing down of eight power plants fired by highly polluting lignite, also known as brown coal.

Report said the country was in the midst of a push to renewable energy sources, but still remained reliant on dirtier fuel like coal to keep the lights on when solar and wind power do not provide enough energy.

Germany planned to give up its reliance on coal by 2050.

Berlin would grant 1.6 billion Euros (1.8 billion dollars) under the plans approved by the EU in public financing to mothball and subsequently close the eight lignite-fired power plants.

The process is due to start in October and be completed by 2020, the year by which Germany had pledged to slash its carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent.

The operators of the eight plants, the companies Mibrag, RWE and Vattenfall would cover the costs of closing down the plants.

“However, the government will compensate them for foregone profits as they cannot continue to sell electricity on the market,’’ the European Commission said in a statement.

The commission deemed the plans to be in line with state aid rules in the 28-country bloc, adding that they would not give the operators undue advantage over competitors.

It added that any competition distortions would be largely offset by the environmental benefits.

The commission said that in 2015, 24 per cent of the total electricity generated in Germany was produced from lignite.

“The eight plants located in the states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine Westphalia and Brandenburg represent 13 per cent of the capacity of German lignite-fired power plants,’’ the commission said.

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