7.4GW of German lignite-fired capacity threatened protests

Source: Heren

2018/09/14

LONDON (ICIS)--Protests in North Rhine-Westphalia Germany are threatening necessary mining operations for two key lignite-fired power plants, according to utility RWE.

Deforestation measures are considered essential for the continued supply of two lignite-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 7.6GW.

“Without the clearing of the trees in this year’s clearing period, the opencast mining and thus the coal extraction for the supply of the power plants cannot be continued as planned,” RWE said on Friday.

The plants produce more than 22TWh of power per annum and supply the energy-intensive industrial state of North-Rhine Westphalia with 15% of its power. If they were to close, this would tighten the German lignite-fired energy supply and have a bullish impact on power prices. Lignite currently accounts for around 25% of electricity generation in Germany and is considered a key aspect in Germany’s marginal generation mix.

“Our power plants and refining operations can contribute to security of supply until around the middle of the century,” RWE said.

Several court rulings have confirmed the right of Germany’s largest power utility to the deforestation but environmental groups remain camped out in the forest, protesting against the removal of the trees.

Critics argue that it contravenes ongoing talks with the coal commission, a group set up to manage Germany’s transition away from coal-fired energy generation to renewable power.

The current plan to start clearing the forest in mid-October remains in place, according to the German utility.