Germany’s Coal Plants May Be Converted To Giant Batteries

Germany’s dirtiest power plants may avoid the scrap heap in the nation’s coal exit by getting refashioned as giant batteries for storing wind and solar power.

The Energy Ministry proposal is being weighed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition to help ease the phaseout of coal-fired generation in two regions where the fossil fuel is a major prop to the economy and jobs. Her administration promised in February some 40 billion euros ($45 billion) in aid to smooth coal’s 18-year wind down that starts next year.

The Rhine lignite belt in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia and Lusatia in Brandenburg and Saxony host eight big power plants owned by RWE AGand LEAG GmbH. The plants and mining operations support thousands of jobs and Merkel is seeking a smooth transition to a clean-energy economy for both areas.