While the continent’s largest economy may not be home to Europe’s dirtiest power station – that dubious honour goes to the lignite-fired Agios Dimitrios station in Greece – Germany does play host to almost a third of the worst offenders.

Conservation charity WWF has published a ‘Dirty Thirty’ hall of shame listing the 30 plants which produce the most CO2 per kilowatt hour of energy.

Of the 30, nine are in Germany (including five of the top ten) while five are in Poland and Italy, Spain and the UK each have four.

Greece only has two, but they are both prominent offenders ranking first and fourth.

The vast majority of the top 30 are coal-fired stations and all but a handful are run by a small coterie of energy giants.

“The power sector is responsible for 37% of all man-made CO2,” said Imogen Zethoven, spokeswoman for WWF.

“Coal-fired power stations rank dirtiest, because they use the most CO2-intense fuel.

“To switch off global warming we have to replace them with cleaner alternatives, such as gas and renewables.”

Over the next 20 years many of Europe’s worst polluting coal power plants will be decommissioned which WWF claims is a historic window of opportunity to cut CO2 pollution.

According to the charity’s projections replacing them with a new generation of clean coal stations will cut CO2 emissions by 13.5% by 2030 whereas putting highly-efficient gas plants in their place could slash emissions by almost 48%.

Replacing them with renewables would result in a 73.4% reduction in emissions.

“A crucial part of the solution to CO2 emissions from power production is the European Emission Trading Scheme,” said Ms Zethoven.

“WWF is pushing for strong pollution limits and clear incentives to invest in wind, water and sun to be included in the second phase. Only tough limits on CO2 will force the utilities to replace dirty coal plants with cleaner gas or clean renewables.”

By Sam Bond

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