Goodbye to Reuter Unit C

16 October 2019

After 50 years of operation, the Reuter CHP plant Unit C in Berlin, Germany, is being decommissioned. Through war and peace the site has supplied power and heat to Berlin and it is now making an important contribution to the city’s coal phase out.

When it was commissioned on December 1, 1969, with an installed electrical capacity of 132 MW and 169 MW heat capacity, it was Berlin’s largest power plant unit. For five decades it has made a significant contribution to securing heat and electricity supply in Western Berlin.

While the coal era at the Reuter power plant is now ended, the site will play a key role in Vattenfall's planned coal phase-out by 2030 in Berlin, and a range of ideas for further development are already underway or in the trial phase at the site. Vattenfall Wärme Berlin is investing just under Euros 100 million in the overall project to replace the hard coal unit.

Recently, Vattenfall commissioned Europe's largest power to heat plant on the Reuter West site. The power-to-heat system produces and stores heat from excess electricity generated by renewable energy sources and is an important component in making the decommissioning of the Reuter C unit possible.

Vattenfall and the Swedish company SaltX Technology are also testing the extent to which excess green electricity from wind or solar sources can be stored in molten salt in the form of heat at the site.

Unit C was inaugurated in 1969, but energy generation at the Reuter site actually began 40 years earlier. When a coal fired plant was built between 1929 and 1932.  It was further expanded in the period 1942 to 1945. Then in 1945 it was occupied and dismantled by the troops of the Soviet Red army.

By the time the Allied forces assumed command on 7 June 1945, the buildings had been transformed into a huge field of rubble; the heart of the power plant was completely destroyed and Berlin had lost 224 MW of capacity.

On 1 October 1945, Bewag submitted an application to the British Supreme Command for Berlin (its governing body) to reconstruct the power plant with a capacity of 184 MW. After several years of negotiations the military government issued in 1948 the order for the plant's reconstruction with a commissioning date of November 1949.  The result was the opening of the West Power Plant on 1 December 1949 by Ernst Reuter, at that time mayor of Berlin.

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