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Markets Drive Germany’s Exit From Coal Much Harder Than Merkel

  • BNEF study shows coal losing out to natural gas, renewables
  • Plants powered by imported gas cheaper to operate than lignite
A lignite mine in Garzweiler, Germany.
A lignite mine in Garzweiler, Germany.Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
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The energy markets are driving Germany’s decreasing dependence on coal faster than Chancellor Angela Merkel’s retreat from the dirtiest power-plant fuel.

Cheap natural gas, the rising cost of permits to emit carbon dioxide and high renewable energy output have put utilities off burning the fossil fuel so far this year, according to a report by BloombergNEF. As Germany debates a plan to exit coal-fired power by 2038, generators from RWE AG to Uniper SE are already burning much less of the fuel in favor of cleaner natural gas.