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No forced hard coal power plant closures before 2026 - German draft law

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BERLIN, Nov 12 (Reuters) - The German government will not force hard coal power plants to close over the next seven years, a draft law expected to be approved by the cabinet next week showed on Tuesday.

The plan not to force hard coal plant closures before 2026 risks making Germany's coal exit more expensive as the government would have to give operators generous financial incentives to shut down facilities voluntarily.

The new plan is a reversal for the government, which had stipulated in a previous blueprint that utilities would be forced to deactivate hard coal power plants by 2026 if not enough closures happen voluntarily.

The draft law, a key component of Germany's plan to phase out coal by 2038, will be put for a vote in the Bundestag lower house should the cabinet approve it on Monday. (Reporting by Markus Wacket Writing by Joseph Nasr Editing by Thomas Seythal)