Uniper, N-ERGIE, Mainova and ENTEGA, the owners of the Irsching 5 gas power plant near Ingolstadt, have today decided to return the plant to the market on October 1, 2020. This decision is driven by improved market prices – in particular lower gas prices – which should make it possible to operate the highly efficient gas power plant economically. At the same time, and for the same reasons, Uniper, the sole owner of the Irsching 4 gas power plant, is preparing to restart market operation of that plant as well. The owners will reassess the situation from year to year and to revise the decision in the event of a deterioration in market conditions.
David Bryson, board member and COO at Uniper commented: "We have always said that we would constantly monitor whether economic market developments allow a return of the Irsching power plants. As things stand, it may be possible to obtain slightly improved margins in the foreseeable future through market operation of these plants. As the level of power generated from the wind and sun can fluctuate heavily, highly efficient and modern gas power plants such as Irsching 4 and 5 can provide a reliable foundation for the energy supply. The German federal government should therefore take this opportunity to follow the recommendations of the Coal Commission and, after setting out the framework conditions for phasing out coal, enshrine the provision of a continuous power supply in German law. So far, there has been a lack of transparency and reliability. Above all, the system of drawing on very different reserves is not forward-looking, as it focuses largely on older existing plants.”
Josef Hasler, chairman of the management board of N-ERGIE Aktiengesellschaft, says: "In order to ensure a secure power supply, we need to use gas power plants that are as flexible and environmentally friendly as Irsching 5 as a transitional technology. To protect the environment, it will also be necessary in the long term to make natural gas "green," for instance via power-to-gas. With the return to the market, we expect the operation of Irsching 5 to become more economical than before. However, this does not mean that we will earn money with the market return. Rather, we hope that the losses that our power plant has been making for years will be reduced."
The owners of Irsching 4 and 5 indicated in September 2019 that the units would be subject to a temporary closure between October 2020 and the end of September 2021. However, the closure of these units was forbidden by the Reserve Power Plants Ordinance (Netzreserveverordnung). This means that the units will only be used when their output is needed to maintain the stability of the grid. For example, if the grid in southern Germany requires additional support due to temporary bottlenecks. The owners have now withdrawn the notification of closure.
Irsching 5 has an output of 846 MW and was commissioned in 2010. With an efficiency rate of 59.7%, it is one of the most modern gas power plants in Europe. It is operated by Uniper Kraftwerke GmbH on behalf of the owners. Uniper has a 50.2% share, N-ERGIE 25.2%, Mainova 15.6%, and ENTEGA 9%. Irsching 4, with a capacity of 561 MW, was commissioned in 2011, and has an efficiency rate of 60.4%, making it one of the most efficient gas power plants in the world.