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RWE AG : Environment Minister : Germany Needs More Coal, Gas Power Plants

08/15/2012 | 08:42am US/Eastern

By Jan Hromadko

GREVENBROICH-NEURATH, Germany--German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said Wednesday the country will need to build more coal- and gas-fired power plants in coming years to ensure energy supplies, even as Germany is pursuing one of the world's most ambitious climate protection strategies.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a new lignite-fired power plant that utility RWE AG (RWE.XE) built west of Cologne, Altmaier said that Germany will require conventional fossil-fueled power plants for "decades to come" to complement unreliable and intermittent renewable energies such as wind and solar power.

By 2020, Germany wants to cover at least 35% of its electricity consumption via renewable energies and plans to raise this share to over 80% by 2050.

Renewable energies have been booming in Germany in recent years and the renewable electricity production has already exceeded 20% of overall production. But the government has repeatedly said that there needs to be adequate backup power generation capacity to ensure that consumers and, more crucially, industry can be supplied with energy around the clock.

He also said that new fossil-fueled power plants like the 2,200-megawatt facility that RWE built in western Germany are contributing to climate protection goals.

"If one builds a new state-of-the-art lignite power plant to replace several older and much less efficient plants, then I feel this should also be acknowledged as a contribution to our climate protection efforts," Mr. Altmaier said.

  Write to Jan Hromadko at jan.hromadko@dowjones.com 

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