E.ON increases plans for German electricity plant shutdowns

23 December 2013 15:05 Source:ICIS
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German utility E.ON has increased the number of German power plants which it plans to shut down over the coming years by more than 2GW, the country’s utility said in a message on its transparency website on Friday.

The shutdowns are still subject to approval from the German energy regulator BNetzA.

A total of four hard coal units with a combined capacity of 1.7GW could come offline at the end of December 2014, E.ON said. These plants included Scholven D, E and F as well as Knepper C and were commissioned between 1971 and 1979. “A continued operation is economically not justifiable,” E.ON said in the statement.

This also applies for the joint power plant Veltheim where the remaining operational units are due to be shut down at the end of March 2015. It was not possible to run these plants beyond the first quarter of 2015, analysis showed, according to E.ON. Currently, the hard coal unit 3 of the Veltheim plant with 303MW capacity is still in operation as well as a 65MW natural gas fired turbine.

The gas fired Ummeln unit with 60MW which is also due to come offline for good in 2015.

All of these plants are located in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia where the grid situation is generally considered not critical which would suggest that plants are unlikely to be considered system relevant and therefore allowed to be shutdown. Although, regional bottlenecks might still appear in the state in the case of plant shutdowns ( see EDEM 19 November 2013 ), the situation is not considered critical as it is in south Germany which faces a potential capacity shortfall of 5.4GW ( see EDEM 19 December 2013 ).

Furthermore, E.ON announced that it plans to shut down the two Ingolstadt units, located in the southern state of Bavaria, with a combined capacity of 772MW by 31 March 2015. These units were mainly running on oil residues from the nearby Bayernoil refinery. However, E.ON could not prolong the oil residue supply contracts in the current volumes beyond 2014, the utility said to explain why it plans to shut down the power generation units.

This comes on top of a total of 9.9GW of already known conventional plant shutdowns in Germany between 2013 and 2018, according to BNetzA. This is more than compensated by the potential commissioning of a total of 10.9GW of conventional plant capacity.

Overcapacities have pushed German power prices to record lows. But so far utilities seemed to be reluctant to shut down significant amounts of their plant capacity amid uncertainty about future energy policy as the country voted a new government in September ( see 11 November EDEM 2013 ). Martin Degen

By Martin Degen