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Germany's hard-coal power plants face early shuttering as profitability plummets

Germany's hard-coal-fired stations may face early closure asdepressed profitability, a surplus of power generation capacity and the rise ofrenewables affect the willingness of utilities to spend for upgrades to keepthe plants open, Bloomberg News reported Sept. 30.

STEAG GmbH, a unit of STEAG AG, is looking into shutting down at least five ofits 13 local coal stations, the report said, quoting an email from the utility'sspokesperson. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. says other utilities may follow Steag'sexample as German coal plant profitability hovers near its lowest point in atleast five years, the report said.

RWE AG,the nation's biggest electricity producer, decided to shut their co-ownedVoerde A and Voerde B coal units by April of next year, the report said.

While utilities have closed down about 18% Germany's currenthard-coal-fired capacity since 2011, another 9% are slated for closure through2019, the report said.

"You have a lot of old hard-coal plants in Germany andyou need to take investment decisions now if you want to continue operatingthem," the report quoted Bengt Longva, a senior analyst at Nena, as saying.