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David Fickling

Germany’s Coal Power Could Shut Down a Decade Early

Generators have until 2038 to switch off their plants, but there are incentives to get it done quicker.

Germany’s coal future goes up in smoke.

Germany’s coal future goes up in smoke.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

For a country that prides itself on its clean, green image, Germany’s power sector is remarkably dirty.

Despite having the third-largest installed base of wind and solar power after China and the U.S., Germany still relied on coal for 45% of its needs as recently as 2015. While the U.K. has been going without the fuel for months at a time, Germany’s legislation on retiring its coal fleets, which passed Friday, will keep plants switched on as late as 2038.