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Time is of essence

Panel Debate Coal (photo: Reinhardt & Sommer/GFZ).
f.l.t.r. Ludwig Stroink (moderator), Klaus Freytag, Felix C. Matthes, Katherina Reiche, Reinhard Hüttl, Tilmann Schwencke (photo: Reinhardt & Sommer / GFZ).

How can the decision to abandon coal be made compatible with the energy transition (“Energiewende”) in Germany? Is there enough potential for renewable energies without having to buy electricity from abroad? These were just two of the questions discussed by the members of the "Coal Commission" on Monday, 26 August in the lecture hall of the GFZ, together with other guests on the podium and the audience.

The focus was on the Lausitz region with its opencast mines and lignite-fired power plants. In his welcoming address, Reinhard Hüttl, CEO of GFZ, emphasized the necessity of an energy system transformation against the background of climate change. Hüttl, who also holds a professorship at the BTU Cottbus, stressed the importance of reliable and verifiable facts provided by science.

The event was hosted by the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the GFZ (FFGFZ), whose chairman is Klaus Freytag, the representative for the ‘Lausitz Region’ of Brandenburg’s State Prime Minister. Like the members of the Coal Commission, Freytag stressed that, following the report of the ‘Commission for Growth, Structural Change and Employment’, its implementation must begin with more speed than now.

Katherina Reiche, member of the Coal Commission and Managing Director of the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU), underlined the demand for haste: "A power plant cannot simply be switched off and replaced with a different energy supply". Felix Matthes of the Öko-Institut spoke out in favour of special regulations to speed up approval processes for wind turbines. Tilmann Schwencke of the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry warned that care must be taken to keep electricity prices as low as possible. (jz)

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