EnBW wants to shut down 668MW of German electricity generation capacity

05 July 2013 16:50 Source:ICIS

German utility EnBW wants to shut down four old heating oil and hard coal plants located in south Germany with a combined capacity of 668MW at the next possible date, it said in a statement on Friday.

In addition, the company said it started discussions with the energy regulator about idling its 353MW natural gas plant RDK4, also located in south Germany, for a period of time with the option of it returning to the market later.

Whether EnBW will be allowed to shut down these plants will depend on the assessment of energy regulator BNetzA and grid operator as to whether they would be considered "system-relevant". A system-relevant plant is needed to ensure the security of supply and/or for grid security measures. To keep system-relevant plants on line the operator would be compensated for it.

The plants in question include: the two Kombiblocks in Marbach with a 262MW heating oil-fired steam turbine and a 85MW gas-fired block which were all commissioned in 1975; the 77MW heating oil-fired Marbach block 2 which was commissioned in 1971: the 148MW hard coal block 2 in Walheim which was commissioned in 1967; and the 96MW hard coal block 1 in Walheim which was commissioned in 1964.

Gas plants in particular, but also older hard-coal plants and oil-fired plants, cannot cover their full costs at current power prices, EnBW said. German spot prices have been in negative territory repeatedly over the last eight months which contributed to the German Calendar Year 2014 trading at a record low of €37.25/MWh on 24 June.

Other utilities have also idled unprofitable German plants, the latest being Statkraft, which announced that it was shutting down an old gas plant in May (see EDEM 8 May 2013).

EnBW said it entered talks with the energy regulator regarding its RDK4 natural gas plant which was commissioned only five years ago but is now not covering its full costs.

"The plant is hardly running any more," EnBW said. The utility would like to idle the plant for a period of time, but bring it back later if market conditions improve.

It remains to be seen if the plant is considered system-relevant which is generally more likely in south Germany where regional grid tightness has caused concern to the energy regulator.

Consequently, it made a deal with E.ON to keep on line its 1.4GW Irsching gas plants in Bavaria despite them being unprofitable under market conditions (see EDEM 26 April 2013). Martin Degen

By Martin Degen