German coal plants to receive 1.6 billion euros for doing nothing

Posted: October 26, 2015 by oldbrew in Energy, News
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German coal - not today thanks.

German coal – not today thanks.

Germany adds a new twist to the long-running saga of trying to meet EU demands on carbon dioxide reduction, as PEI reports. Should be good for another hike in already high German electricity prices.

Germany’s top three utilities have agreed to begin placing their most carbon-emitting coal-fired power plants into the country’s power reserve this winter in a move predicted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12.5 million tonnes by 2020.

The utilities, RWE, Vattenfall and Mibrag will be paid about 1.6 billion euros ($1.76 billion) to keep about 2.7 GW of brown coal plants offline except in an emergency when power demand exceeds supply.

The lignite-fired units will be taken off grid over the four years 2016-2019 and used only as ‘facilities of last resort’ according to a report from Reuters.

The government’s strategy is motivated in three ways – keeping some of German energy generation’s biggest polluters offline without shutting them down: cutting carbon emissions to meet its climate pledges, setting up a backstop against outages as clean energy expands and finally to assuage utilities that might otherwise shut down plants and fire workers.

“The measure is important for reaching our climate goals and at the same time ensuring that the affected regions don’t suffer structural damage,” Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. Gabriel’s ministry dropped plans for a levy on coal-fired power plants in the summer and instead said it would pay companies to shift capacity to a coal-fired reserve to safeguard its target to cut emissions by 12.5 million tons by 2020.

RWE said it would shift about 15 per cent of its total lignite capacity of about 10,000 MW to the reserve. Company chairman Peter Terium said, “This solution will enable our lignite-fired power plants to make a major contribution to the additional CO2 reduction of 12.5 million tonnes.” “However, it hits the company hard and means a huge burden for our employees,” he added.

Source: German coal plants move to new role as ‘facilities of last resort’ – Power Engineering International

  1. Lignite plants (typically) take longer to vary their output than black coal. They’ll be left burning lignite to stay warm; because cold-starts take weeks and loads are unpredictable weeks ahead if priority of electrical supply is given to chaotic wind and solar supplies. There isn’t enough black-coal capacity to run the country; even with nuclear and hydro to help.

    The network agency won’t however permit a total shutdown. It doesn’t even do that for inefficient, ancient coal-fired plants.

    Who’ll be paying for the fuel to keep all those reliable power stations ready to come back onto the grid as an hour’s notice? Where is the money coming from?

  2. Don Keiller says:

    Another good reason to leave the EUSSR.

  3. A C Osborn says:

    Total EU Madness.
    Perhaps they should offer Billions to the Customers to switch off their electrical items, I am sure that they will find many willing to oblige them.

  4. oldbrew says:

    German fuel bills: no pay – no play.

    ‘Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills. ‘

    Woodland Heists: Rising Energy Costs Drive Up Forest Thievery

    ‘some foresters are outfitting log piles with GPS devices to track thieves’

  5. ivan says:

    As Bernd says you can not just shut down any coal fired power station, leave it for months/years and then expect it to come back on line in a short while, if at all.

    I have seen a small oil fired power station that was started for acceptance tests and then just shut down, they didn’t even drain the boilers or the turbines. Two years later when they wanted to start it up to use we had to replace everything except the buildings and one of the oil tanks. about 80% of the boiler tubes were rusted through, the turbine blades were rusted beyond repair and the housing was pitted, the flew was rusted out and what the sulphur in the oil did to the storage tanks does not bear talking about.

    For those German power plants to be able to come back on line in any reasonable time scale they will need to be kept hot and have everything run up at least once a week. Doing that costs, not only for the brown coal used but also for the staff that need to be on site. But then this is the sort of stupid thinking you get from greens that know nothing of science and engineering.

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    I agree although low sulphur oil, anti-corrosive additives and a proper shut down procedure help. But they would still have to replace the boiler tubes. My (limited) experience is that a boiler properly shut down was moved and re-commissioned 14 years later, although at half the designed maximum pressure. (That reduction didn’t bother the new operators as they used the steam at 500p.s.i. through a turbine, and used the outgoing steam at 15p.s.i. for in-process heating.

    Bernd Felsche:
    Of course they will be kept hot, chances are they will be generating quite a bit, especially if there is a Low weather pattern. Remember that you can always tell when a politician is lying, you see his lips move.

  7. oldmanK says:

    oldbrew, you have touched a very sore point: “Woodland Heists: Rising Energy Costs Drive Up Forest Thievery”.

    This is insanity driven by ignorance, not least by EU lawyers ( speaking on CO2 when they cannot tell their ar– from their elbows on the matter). Coal plants, polluters that they are, are more efficient than wood stoves and three times more than the favorite open fireplace (many out of nostalgia). so really the shift generates more CO2 plus other hazards like particulates.

    Coal plants have filters, but none of the household stoves have any, which today will lead to conditions and a national health bill far higher than Dickens London.

    Stolen wood is cheap but that purchased really raises the fuel bill (where I come from it is so and electricity is not cheap and mainly bought from mainland Europe. The kWh from a fireplace with purchased wood costs 3-4 times that from the mains).

  8. oldbrew says:

    ivan says ‘For those German power plants to be able to come back on line in any reasonable time scale they will need to be kept hot and have everything run up at least once a week. Doing that costs, not only for the brown coal used but also for the staff that need to be on site.’

    Isn’t that what some of the 1.6 billion euros is for?

  9. ivan says:

    oldbrew, that was my thought as well but that then raises the question, ‘why shut them down at all?’ Maybe it is a way of placating the greens and also ensuring that German industry still has power when needed.

  10. oldmanK says:

    Points to ponder: For such plant to be kept on ‘hot standby’ for long times has great hazards.

    1 If there is any sulphur in the fuel, acid condensation corrosion will see to it that the boilers will end out of action in short time, less than a week. Repairs to acid eaten parts will be difficult and costly and take long time to repair.

    2 Rolling turbomachinery ( for a quick start-up) will suffer from steam condensation leading to inefficiency and a shortened life.

  11. Reblogged on the Climate Change Chronicle – thanks

    It is ironic though that three vital coal fired power stations in the UK will be closed by their foreign owners next spring, with the loss of as much another 5 GW of capacity, in late March of that year, when it will still be cold in The UK. If the wind doesn’t blow, then we are in real trouble.

    The Germans can subsidise to such a large extent, but the UK is not allowed to do so. There is now already so severe a shortage of coal fly-ash and bottom-ash to the UK construction industry, that big railway and road infrastructure projects are at risk of stalling, to say nothing of the house building industry. You can’t make cement from wood ashes ! (pay attention owners of Drax !)