14 Sep 2022, 13:52
Sören Amelang

German coal industry says more money needed for restarting plants to save gas

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Readying retired German coal plants for use during the winter in case of gas shortfalls is not economically viable for the sector, Germany’s coal industry has said. The lifetime extension agreed by the government until April next year is far too short and the conditions far too strict to make the required investments worthwhile, power plant operators, coal transporters and coal traders said at a press conference, as reported by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The government demand to store coal for 30 days of full-load operation is excessive and requires too much up-front investment to make a limited extension possible, the industry said. Due to these hurdles, only two coal power plants have returned to the market so far, the article says.

Coal power company Steag said it is ready to re-activate two power plants from the grid reserve and keep two others running that were supposed to go off market. But certain conditions will have to be met before a decision can be made, vice chairman Stephan Riezler said. He added the government must ensure that the high investments and risks can be justified, given that it can’t force operators to provide additional generation capacity. "The alternative is that the power plants do not return to the market and remain in reserve," Riezler said.

Earlier this year Germany allowed mothballed coal power stations to be temporarily reactivated to help reduce natural gas consumption in the power sector. But market participation is voluntary and will be limited until 30 April 2023. The economy and climate ministry said that the goal of phasing out coal use for power generation ideally by 2030 (and by 2038 at the very latest) remains unaffected, as do the climate targets.

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