EnBW, one of Germany’s top four utilities, plans to mothball two hard coal-fired power plant blocks in Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg state whose operation it says isn’t economically viable anymore due to the expansion of renewable energy capacity in Germany.
The company will soon indicate the planned closure of the
plants to transmission system operator Transnet BW and the Federal Network
Agency. The TSO will then have to verify whether the power plants in question
are relevant for the stability of Germany’s energy supply.
The network agency in December had forbidden EnBW to
shutter four other power plants in nearby Marbach and Walheim with a combined
capacity of 668MW, whose closure the utility had requested in July 2013, and
ordered EnBW to continue operating them until at least July 2016.
“In particular through the significant expansion of
renewable energies numerous fossil plants are subject to elevated economic
pressure,” EnBW said.
“That leads to drastically sinking revenues. Affected power
plants at today’s wholesale electricity prices by a long shot can’t cover their
full costs and therefore can’t be operated economically.”
Utilities across Europe, and in particular in Germany, are
shuttering many gigawatts of gas-fired and hard-coal generation capacity as
those plants often run only partially as renewable and nuclear power enter the
grid with priority, and on days of plenty of wind and sun push more expensive power
sources such as gas or hard coal out of the market.
Keeping plants operational on a stand-by basis for days
with little renewable output is not economically viable, utilities complain.
A study released by Greenpeace yesterday accuses Europe’s
top utilities, including EnBW, to have over-invested in fossil power generation
capacity in the last decade, ignoring declining demand and a rapidly rising
EnBW has 4.29GW in fossil capacity in the state of
Baden-Württemberg, is in the process of taking a modern 900MW hard coal power
plant into operation in Karlsruhe, and is building a further hard coal plant in