Bonn (dpa) – With the exit of coal, the next steps are clear. The Federal Network Agency decided on Tuesday which coal-fired power plants should close in the middle of next year.
The operators of the eleven factories receive compensation totaling EUR 317 million. The largest electricity producer in Germany, RWE, will receive 216 million euros of this. The energy groups Vattenfall, Uniper and Steag have also come into play – but there is also money for some small power plants on company sites.
Federal Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier (CDU) expressed his satisfaction with the result of the tender. Now it is official: “As planned, coal-fired power stations with a total capacity of 4 gigawatts will go offline this year.” The large participation in the auction shows “that there was real competition between the bidders”. According to the Federal Network Agency, demand was greater than the quantity offered. Further auctions are planned for the coming years. From 2027 there will be no more compensation.
Critics complain that the electricity companies receive money for systems that are no longer profitable. “Most coal-fired power plants that have now been contracted to close would have been withdrawn in time,” said Oliver Krischer, Greens parliamentary deputy in the Bundestag. The depreciated assets were “converted back into money”. The operators receive between 6,000 and 150,000 euros for every megawatt output of the plant that is switched off. In its decision, the Federal Network Agency has taken into account how much carbon dioxide will be saved by the shutdown.
The Swedish energy group Vattenfall has won the contract for the two 800 megawatt blocks of its Moorburg power plant in Hamburg. The controversial power plant only went into operation in 2015. Hamburg’s senator for the environment, Jens Kerstan, welcomed the closure. “The Moorburg power plant was oversized, uneconomic and obsolete from the start,” said the green politician.
The energy group RWE includes a fee for its coal-fired power stations in Ibbenbüren and Hamm. After the two plants have been shut down, RWE will no longer generate electricity from coal in Germany, a spokesman said. According to its own information, RWE will receive 216 million euros for the closure of the two power plants. Operational redundancies of the 250 employees at both locations are excluded.
The power plants used in the auction may no longer sell electricity from 1 January. However, for supply contracts concluded by that time, electricity can still be produced after the turn of the year. From July 2021 there will be a ban on the burning of coal. In addition, the transmission system operators and the Federal Network Agency check whether the power stations are systemically important for the stability of the German electricity grid. If so, they should stay prepared for critical situations.
Germany wants to close all coal-fired power stations by 2038 to protect the climate. Fixed cut-off dates and compensation amounts have been agreed with the brown coal operators RWE and Leag. RWE will receive 2.6 billion euros, and 1.75 billion euros has been reserved for the East German Leag. RWE wants to close the first lignite block at the end of this year.