Gas plant in Bavaria comes back online thanks to low gas and high CO2 prices
Clean Energy Wire
Two modern gas power units in Bavarian Irsching are selling electricity on the power market again, after having been demoted to back-up capacity since 2013. Power company Uniper which operates the Siemens-built turbines that held a record for being the world’s most efficient gas-fired plant between 2011 and 2015, has revived the plant because of improved market conditions. Low gas prices, higher CO2 costs and a decrease in coal power generation in Germany have all contributed to gas-fired power stations being able to turn a profit again. Uniper had announced the move in May.
David Bryson, COO at Uniper said that Irsching could have started generation again earlier, if Germany and Europe had taken climate action more seriously years ago. “Fortunately, all signals from the political arena indicate that strengthening emissions trading is wanted and supported. This makes us more confident for the foreseeable future.” Bavaria’s energy and economy minister Hubert Aiwanger said that during the phase-out of coal and nuclear plants, supply security had to be guaranteed with gas-fired plants like Irsching.
As long as natural gas was more expensive than coal for generating electricity, Germany’s gas plants were often outpriced on the power market. The operators of Irsching applied to mothball their plant for good, but the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) decided they had to help stabilise the power system in times of need and ordered them into the back-up reserve. The industrial south of Germany is a large consumer of electricity, but major renewable power generation is located in the north. Therefore experts have warned that shutting down the remaining nuclear power stations in the south while new north-south power lines still have to be built could lead to an imbalance in the power system. Gas plants in the south, such as Irsching, are part of an interim solution for this problem until power lines are completed.