02 Jun 2021, 12:10
Julian Wettengel

Supply security: Uniper coal plant needs to stay in reserve a while longer

Clean Energy Wire

Uniper’s coal power unit Heyden 4, which was slated for decommissioning as a result of the first round of German hard coal exit tenders, has to remain online in reserve to help secure supply, said the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). As the unit cannot be converted to a phase shifter – a unit to help manage power flows, without using coal to generate power – in time for the shutdown of nuclear power plant Grohnde by the end of 2021, it must remain on standby for a while longer. The grid regulator said after Grohnde’s shutdown, there could be “critical load conditions” in spring 2022, when there is less power from wind turbines. Uniper anticipates Heyden 4 to remain in operation as a reserve power plant from July 8, 2021 to September 30, 2022, and put to use only at the request of grid operators to guarantee supply security, the company said. Heyden has been in a sort of reserve status since the beginning of the year and has not been generating electricity for the market, said Uniper. It has nevertheless been put into operation seven times since then in order to stabilise the grid.

Heyden 4 was among the 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 had said, adding that this will also guarantee achieving the planned emission reductions.

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