RWE Power shuts down five lignite power plants

2 April 2024

In accordance with the operational stand-by ordered by the German government which ended on 31 March, 2100 MW of lignite capacity are to be permanently removed from grid and decommissioned.

RWE started permanent shut down of the five power plant units in the Rhenish mining area on 31 March. The closures are a further step within the context of the coal phase-out that RWE plans to complete by 2030. The affected power plant units are located at the Grevenbroich-Neurath and Bergheim-Niederaussem sites. The German government had temporarily extended their operating life to secure the power supply during the energy crisis and save natural gas, so the decommissioning of the five units will contribute to a further reduction in CO2 emissions.

RWE has already decommissioned 12 lignite-fired power plant units with a total output of 4200 MW since the end of 2020. In addition, briquette production was discontinued at the end of 2022, taking 120 MW of power plant capacity off the grid. At the end of this year, the 300 MW Block F at Weisweiler power plant will be shut down, meaning that only seven of the former 20 power plant units will still be in operation in 2025. Lignite capacity in the Rhineland will then only amount to around half of the original total power plant capacity. Further closures are planned over the next few years.

The 300 MW Neurath C and Niederaussem E and F units, which are now to be decommissioned, had been on standby for several years. They were extensively overhauled for a longer period of operation following a federal ruling. They were available to the electricity market again from October 2022. The two 600 MW units Neurath D and E were to be taken off the grid at the end of 2022 in accordance with the Coal Phase-out Act. This step was suspended until the end of March this year due to the gas shortage. The 600 MW units have been in operation since 1975 and 1976 respectively, while the 300 MW units were connected to the grid in 1970 and 1971 (Niederaussem E and F) and 1973 (Neurath C).

RWE is planning to build at least 3 GW of hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants at its own sites, provided that the economic framework conditions permit an investment and the company is successful in the tenders for hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants announced by the German government.

As part of its global investment and growth strategy, RWE is significantly expanding its green core business. In Germany alone, the company is planning to invest up to €11 billion in offshore and onshore wind power, solar, storage, flexible backup capacities and hydrogen between 2024 and 2030.

Image: The Niederaussem lignite power station in Bergheim, Germany (courtesy of Jörg Kutzera / Wkimedia Commons)

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