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Network operator classifies STEAG power stations in Bexbach and Weiher as system-relevant

In the middle of January 2017, an important decision was made concerning the future of the five power station units belonging to STEAG GmbH, Essen/Germany, which had been earmarked for decommissioning. The transmission system operator Amprion GmbH has classified two of the power station units as system-relevant. The Bexbach and Weiher power stations, both situated in the Saarland, are therefore required to maintain their operational readiness and will remain on the grid. By contrast, the power station units West 1 and 2, as well as Herne 3 in North Rhine-Westphalia, were classified as not system-relevant. These units in the Ruhrgebiet have either already been decommissioned or will be permanently closed in March and June 2017, according to the decision of STEAG management.

In November last year, STEAG announced that the power station units in North-Rhine Westphalia would be permanently decommissioned and the two units in the Saarland would be temporarily decommissioned as a result of the altered political environment in the market and consistently low electricity prices.

Amprion has justified the importance of the two Saarland hard coal-fired power stations in a statement claiming that the decommissioning of the Bexbach and Weiher power stations would put at risk or disrupt the safety or reliability of the electricity supply system to some considerable extent. To avoid this disruption, STEAG has been officially requested in writing to maintain the operational readiness of these two power stations, initially until the end of November 2019. Bexbach and Weiher are required for use in re-dispatch in order to ensure network stability.

In collaboration with the German Federal Network agency, in the last three months, Amprion has carried out a system analysis study to analyse the system relevance of the power stations announced for decommissioning by STEAG. The Bexbach coal-fired power station has a gross output of 780 MW, while the Weiher hard coal-fired power station provides 724 MW.

“We are pleased about the positive decision to retain the Bexbach and Weiher sites, which secures many of our power station jobs in the Saarland for the time being,” announced Joachim Rumstadt, Chairman of the Executive Board at STEAG. “For the three units in North Rhine-Westphalia, the announcement of decommissioning comes as no surprise, but is nonetheless a bitter blow to us all considering the long history of STEAG in the Ruhrgebiet.” The Herne co-generation plant will be retained. Here, STEAG operates the Herne 4 block which generates electricity as well as district heat and supplies it to the local network.

The final decommissioning of the three power station units in North Rhine-Westphalia means that STEAG has reduced its domestic power generation from coal by approximately 1,000 MW. STEAG continues to generate a power station output of over 5,000 MW throughout Germany. (STEAG, Si.)