RWE halts personnel early retirements as coal firing is ramped up

21 June 2022

RWE, Germany’s largest energy company, has halted early retirement of employees in reaction to the government’s decision to increase the use of coal-fired power while gas supplies are low, public broadcaster ARD reports. In order to keep the lignite-fired power plants running longer than previously expected, the company will also employ suitably trained external workers, involving hundreds of jobs, an RWE spokeswoman told Rheinische Post.

RWE has three 300 MW power plants currently on security standby that can be restarted at the request of the federal government. German economics minister Robert Habeck is aiming to reduce the use of gas for power generation and industry in view of reduced Russian deliveries. To that end, more coal-fired power plants are to replace electricity generation from gas-fired plants as far as possible. This action has been taken to make it possible to fill Germany’s gas storage tanks.

Russian state-owned company Gazprom last week said it would drastically reduce flows through the offshore Nord Stream pipeline owing to technical problems caused by Western sanctions. However minister Habeck called the move a "political decision". The reduced gas flows could put at risk Germany’s target of almost completely filling its gas storage for the oncoming winter.

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