12 Jul 2022, 12:05
Julian Wettengel

German govt takes next step to reactivate hard coal plants for supply security in gas crisis

Tagesspiegel Background / Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s government is expected to adopt a regulation on 13 July that would allow operators of certain hard coal plants to temporarily reactivate their units to help reduce natural gas consumption in the power sector, reports Tagesspiegel Background. Coal plants, which had successfully applied in phase-out tenders under the country’s coal exit scheme to stop producing electricity by 2022 or 2023, could thus return to the market as soon as the regulation takes effect, economy ministry sources told Tagesspiegel. In addition, hard coal-fired power plants and mineral oil-fired power plants that are already in the grid reserve are also to return to the grid. According to the draft regulation, operators must ensure that plants are technically restored to a condition that allows them to operate permanently on the electricity market. The costs incurred for this would be reimbursed. The whole scheme is temporary, and will end on 30 April 2023. Operators are free to decide whether they want to reactivate the plants, but in view of high power prices, experts expect them to do so, writes Tagesspiegel.

The economy ministry is also preparing a similar regulation for lignite power plants, which can only participate in the market if hard coal and oil power plants are insufficient to replace gas in the power sector. This includes lignite plants from the security standby, which for now may only be restarted in extreme emergencies.

The gas supply crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine has prompted the government to prepare for a possible supply halt or severe reduction of deliveries from Russia. Natural gas makes up about a quarter of Germany’s energy consumption (26.7% in 2021) and is mostly used for heating and in industry. Only a comparably small share (12%) was used to produce electricity. Germany’s parliament laid the groundwork for the reactivation of coal plants by adopting amendments to existing energy legislation last week ahead of the parliamentary summer break. The changes allow the government to introduce regulations on reactivating hard coal and lignite plants, and curbing power production in gas plants.

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