Germany’s gas power ambitions reliant on district heating

German gas fired power plant operators believe the success of new power plant builds is dependent on selling district heating.

Operators have confirmed that two projected combined heat and power (CHP) plants in Cologne and Dusseldorf will be driven by heat rather than power production.
Niehl-3 gas-fired power plant
"District heating will render the Niehl-3 gas-fired power plant profitable," a RheinEnergie representative told Gas to Power Journal. The municipal utility has commissioned Alstom to build the 450 MW combined-cycle power plant in Cologne Niehl on a turnkey basis.

"Profitability will be particularly high in part-load operation. We will consequentially run the plant according to heating demand as technology will allow for maximising heat production by decreasing power output," he said.

Dusseldorf is yet another location where the municipal utility decided in favour of building a gas-fired power plant regardless of negative profit margins of gas generation assets in Germany. The spark spread for Cal13 dropped below EUR -10.20/MWh, but the possibility of selling district heat is counterbalancing this loss.

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf will activate a 595 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Lauswald near the Düsseldorf harbour by 2016.

"Making use of the plant's thermal energy for district heating increases the facility's overall efficiency to 85 per cent," a spokesman confirmed. The Lauswald CHP will cover the lion's share of Dusseldorf's power demand which tends to vary between 260 MW and 750 MW.

Siemens Energy will design and built the gas-fired power plant in Düsseldorf on a turnkey basis behalf of the municipal utility.

"Never before has it been possible to extract 300 MWth of district heat from a single power plant unit in combined cycle operation. Thus, the overall efficiency of the natural gas fuel will be around 85 percent," said Roland Fischer, CEO of the fossil power generation division at Siemens Energy.

Operators can reduce the costs of producing electricity per kilowatt hour through increased plant efficiency, while the price of natural gas to fuel gas-fired plants in Germany is in most cases determined by long-term oil-indexed contracts.

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