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08 Jul 2021, 13:32
Kerstine Appunn

Shutdown complete: Moorburg power plant stops burning coal for good

Clean Energy Wire / Tagesschau

The hard coal power station Moorburg in Hamburg was closed down for good on 7 July, reported public broadcaster Tagesschau. After successfully participating in a government decommissioning tender for payment in return for an early shut down, the 1600 MW plant had stopped market operation at the end of 2020 and was only kept operational as a back-up reserve. According to the German coal exit law, the last coal plant will be shuttered by 2038. While there is a strict timeline for the closure of lignite (brown coal) stations, hard coal stations and small lignite plants can participate in the tender scheme, deciding for themselves when compensation becomes more financially viable than the continued generation of fossil fuel electricity. NGO Robin Wood said that Moorburg’s end will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to eight million tonnes. However, other commentators have pointed out that it would be more prudent to close older, more polluting plants first. But Vattenfall – like other coal plant operators – has experienced a drop in profits from the plant as the price for CO2 emissions under the European Emission Trading System (EU ETS) is rising, and therefore opted for the decommissioning compensation. 

Following the decision for more ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets in Germany and the EU, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not the German coal exit agreement must be revisited to introduce an earlier exit date. The Moorburg plant only became operational in 2015 and was one of the most modern power stations in Germany, Vattenfall said. The company has announced it will pursue a hydrogen project at the Moorburg site, turning offshore wind energy into green hydrogen. 

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