Preparations for further operation
Older lignite-fired power plants run longer
10/01/2022, 09:10 am
In the energy crisis, some lignite-fired power plants are getting an extension. The ink on the ordinance for this is not yet dry, and the operators are rushing to organize continued operation. In addition to repairs, this also means early retirement for some employees.
Starting this Saturday, the energy companies RWE and LEAG have the legal opportunity to bring additional lignite-fired power plants back onto the market to strengthen the security of the electricity supply. There are five blocks that were previously on security standby. In the Lausitz area, it is the LEAG Jänschwalde E & F power plant units, in the Rhenish area the RWE Niederaußem E & F and Neurath C power plant units. They may initially return to the market for a limited period until June 30, 2023.
During the energy crisis, the lignite blocks are intended to help reduce the amount of natural gas that is converted into electricity. They have a combined capacity of 1.9 gigawatts. For comparison: the three German nuclear power plants that are currently still connected to the grid each have an output of 1.4 to 1.5 gigawatts. The companies decide for themselves when exactly they want to bring their power plants back online. The required ordinance was only passed by the Federal Cabinet on Wednesday. It was published in the Federal Gazette on Friday evening.
It is still unclear exactly when the blocks in Jänschwalde will go online. RWE announced on Thursday that the three RWE blocks “should go into operation in the coming days”. It was originally planned that they would be finally shut down on September 30, 2022 and September 30, 2023 respectively.
Habeck: Bitter news
According to RWE, the restart of the power plants was preceded by extensive work to prepare the plants for longer periods of high utilization. The workforce has been strengthened, for example by employees taking early retirement later. A spokesman for the operator LEAG had said that the maintenance work was complex and that components had been replaced. The energy company hired additional employees. Two coal-fired power plants from the so-called grid reserve have already returned to the market. More are to follow in the coming weeks.
Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck had repeatedly described the return of climate-damaging coal-fired power plants as bitter news with a view to climate protection. However, the return is inevitable because of the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine on gas supplies. “The goal of ideally completing the phase-out of coal by 2030 remains in place,” the federal government had emphasized several times.