Markets drive Germany's exit from coal much harder than Merkel

The energy markets are driving Germany's decreasing dependence on coal faster than Chancellor Angela Merkel's retreat from the dirtiest power-plant fuel.

Photo: Krisztian Bocsi / Bloomberg

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.

"Generation costs for gas are cheaper than those for coal or lignite for the first time since at least 2009," BNEF analysts including Verena Viskovic wrote in the report, adding that the profitability of gas plants is beating most lignite plants "for the first time ever."

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