Germany set for gas power plant expansion deal this week
BERLIN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - German stakeholders are set to agree a deal on a much-anticipated roadmap for the construction of several new gas-fired power plants this week, three government and industry sources told Reuters on Monday.
The plan, with an estimated cost of 40 billion euros ($44 billion), is part of Germany's attempts to prevent the phase-out of coal leading to power shortages caused by the intermittency of renewable generation.
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A top-level meeting between the Economy and Finance ministries as well as the Chancellor's Office is scheduled for late on Tuesday to reach an agreement, the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly on the issue.
A spokesperson for the Economy Ministry, which is leading the effort, said intensive talks on the matter were taking place, but did not give further detail.
Germany wants to use some 24 gigawatts (GW) of hydrogen and gas-fired power plants to cover gaps in wind and solar supply, but has been at odds with Brussels on allocating public funding for them.
The strategy has also drawn criticism from environmental campaigners, who want the use of fossil fuel to end as soon as possible and are unconvinced by arguments from energy producers that natural gas is a necessary transition fuel as burning it produces less carbon dioxide than coal.
The country's top utility firms - RWE, Uniper and EnBW - have called for specific regulation to build these new gas stations that they say would not be economic without state support.
The power plant strategy was meant to be completed last year, but was delayed after a constitutional court ruled out some 60 billion euros earmarked for climate projects and forced the government to revise its budget.
Berlin needs agreement on the planned plants to convince coal-producing parts of Germany to phase out coal-fired stations earlier than the official date of 2038 and help Germany reach its green house emissions targets faster. ($1 = 0.9187 euros) (Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Christoph Steitz and Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Matthias Williams, Ed Osmond and Barbara Lewis)