RWE, Steag, Uniper, Vattenfall win coal closure deals

02/12/2020 08:35 Coal


German utilities RWE, Steag, Uniper and Swedish utility Vattenfall will close some of their coal-fired plants, with a combined capacity of 4.4GW, after being successful in the first German tender for the closures of such facilities.

German market regulator Bnetza awarded 4.79GW of coal-fired plant capacity closures. Successful plants will stop commercial operations from 1 January when they will be available for system services on request by the corresponding transmission system operator. But from 8 July, these units will be banned from burning coal for power generation.


Vattenfall has been awarded a contract for the closure of its Moorburg coal-fired power plant, which consists of two units — A and B — with a capacity of 800MW each. The power plant, located in the German city of Hamburg, was commissioned in 2015 and has an efficiency of 46.5pc, which makes it the highest-efficiency plant to be successful in the first tender.


The two units have generated a combined 1.58TWh of power this year, well below the 7.05TWh average for 2017-19, data from German institute Fraunhofer ISE show. Vattenfall earlier this year said the reason that it submitted a bid for the plant was that it is not system-critical to the Hamburg region.


The company is evaluating options for the facility after its closure that range from conversion to completely dismantling the system, Bnetza said.


RWE's Westphalia plant, with a capacity of 763.7MW, was also successful. The plant was commissioned in 2014 and has an efficiency of 46pc. The unit has generated about 1.32TWh this year, compared with the three-year average of 3.16TWh.


RWE intends to operate a phase shifter on behalf of Amprion on the power plant. It would be operational by the start of the spring next year, it said.


Another RWE coal-fired plant, Ibbenburen, will stop commercial operations from 1 January. It has a capacity of 794MW and an estimated efficiency of 38pc. The unit is located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and was commissioned in 1985. Ibbenburen has generated 516GWh of power this year so far, as it has operated on a seasonal basis. This compares with a 2.20TWh three-year average. RWE is considering offering the Ibbenburen power plant in the capacity reserve, Bnetza said, although no further details were revealed on the plant's potential conversion.


Germany's Uniper was awarded a contract to close its 875MW Heyden plant, also located in North Rhine-Westphalia. The plant was commissioned in 1987 and has an estimated efficiency of 38pc. Heyden has generated 676GWh this year, compared with a three-year average of 1.60TWh.


Initial ideas for reusing the site focus on examining projects related to energy generation from natural gas or hydrogen, facilities for stabilising the power grid and energy-intensive industries, Bnetza said.


Essen-based utility Steag will close its 370MW Walsum 9 coal-fired unit, also in North Rhine-Westphalia. The plant was commissioned in 1988 and has an estimated efficiency of 38pc. It has generated about 538GWh of power this year, compared with 1.01TWh in 2017-19. Walsum 9 is part of the Duisburg Walsum coal-fired plant that includes unit 10, which will not close before 2027 due to a power purchase agreement, the utility said earlier this year.


Because of the available space and the good logistics and network connections, the Walsum location is particularly suitable as a hub for sector coupling, Bnetza said. Different projects can be pursued at the same time, including coal-to-gas switching and the construction of a hydrogen and oxygen hub with an electrolysis capacity of 100MW. Steag is also considering building a storage platform for renewable energy with a capacity of up to 150MW as there is currently a 15MW battery storage facility at the site.


Municipal utility Stadtwerke Bremen also participated successfully in the first tender. It will close its Hafen Block 6 coal-fired unit with a capacity of 303MW next year. The plant was commissioned in 1979 and has generated just 113GWh this year, well below the 1.39TWh 2017-19 average. The construction of a sewage sludge incineration plant is planned at the site, with a launch date of 2023.


Four plants, each with capacity of less than 100MW, were also awarded contracts. These include Infraserv's 50.94MW Kohleblock HKW and Südzucker's Zuckerfabrik Brottewitz, with a capacity of 3.6MW.

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