EnBW looks to close uneconomical coal-fired power plants

EnBW has decided to close two coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 250 MW at Heilbronn, south-western Germany, because keeping the aging plants was deemed uneconomical.

The utility stated that the two units to be closed (HLB5 and HLB6) were commissioned in the 1960s, however a third coal-fired unit at Heilbronn is not affected by the decision.

According to the statement, the grid operator and the federal grid agency will be informed as soon as possible and have to decide whether the units can be taken offline.

Germany's new energy law calls for a 12-month-notice period for planned power plant switch-offs during which TSOs and the grid regulator evaluate whether the units are of a "system-critical nature". In January, EnBW said that it has filed a complaint against the decision of the grid regulator to reject its earlier application for the closure of four power plant units with a combined 668 MW capacity.

The decision is based upon the rapid and structural change in Germany's energy mix, EnBW said. The boom in renewable power installations is particularly putting older fossil-fuelled power plants under pressure, reducing their running times and making an economical viable operation less likely for such marginal plants, it added.

Platts reports that the grid operator considers the plants all located in south-western Germany "system-critical," which means that the plants have to be kept online until July 2016.

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