BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will protect its manufacturing industry from the impact of abandoning cheap coal-fired power, which Berlin is looking to ditch for environmental reasons, its economy minister said.
German companies want some protection from the rise they fear they will see in electricity prices when coal-fired and nuclear power plants are taken off grid in coming years, warning that they could see increased costs totalling billions of euros.
“We will take clear and responsible steps to compensate energy-intensive companies,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told an energy industry conference on Tuesday as a government-appointed “coal commission” gets close to publishing a timeline for phasing out the fossil fuel.
The commission plans to publish its findings on Jan. 25 and no later than Feb. 1, including a timeline for when Germany’s last coal-fired power station will go offline. Experts expect that date to be between 2035 and 2040.
If Germany speeds up its exit from coal, the extra power costs could hit 54 billion euros ($61 billion) by 2030, a study conducted for the BDI industry association and DIHK Chambers of Commerce said on Tuesday.
Germany’s manufacturing industry is crucial to Europe’s economic powerhouse and holds considerable political sway and the BDI, DIHK and BDA urged Berlin to provide a subsidy of at least 2 billion euros a year towards network charges.
“Germany’s prosperity largely depends on the competitiveness of energy-intensive companies,” BDA employers’ association Managing Director Steffen Kampeter said, adding that jobs would be at risk from an “overhasty exit” from coal.