German power grid operators want three phased-out coal plants as backup
Clean Energy Wire
Three German hard coal power plants slated for decommissioning as part of the country's coal exit might have to stay on stand-by for operation to secure the country's power supply. Electricity grid operators have declared the stations "system relevant" and say they should be kept as backup instead of taking them offline for good in the summer, according to the country's grid agency BNetzA. The agency will now evaluate, until early June, if the plants located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and are owned by utilities STEAG, Uniper and RWE, respectively, will have to stay operational or whether they need to be retrofitted to secure a stable power supply in case of an emergency. The authorities will also look into the possibility of taking alternative measures to prevent blackouts. One of the stations in question, Uniper's Heyden plant, had to be restarted six times since being switched off at the start of the year, during which renewable power output was low due little wind and sunshine, reports Daniel Wetzel in die Welt.
The three affected power stations are among a total of eleven plants with a combined capacity of almost five gigawatts that successfully participated in Germany's first coal exit auction. Operators will receive a total of 317 million euros for retiring the stations, even if some should stay in reserve, because they will no longer be allowed to operate commercially. "When a plant is transferred to the grid reserve, it may in the future only be started up at the request of the transmission grid operators if this is necessary to safeguard grid operation," BNetzA said, adding that this will also guarantee achieving the planned emission reductions. Power consumers will have to pay the costs of keeping them operational, if necessary. The Moorburg coal plant in Hamburg, which operator Vattenfall opened only in 2015, was recently deemed not system relevant and will be taken offline for good in the middle of the year.