On 2nd March 2018, the energy company STEAG GmbH, Essen/Germany, notified the Federal Network Agency of the legally binding decommissioning of power station units 6 and 7 in Lünen/Germany. On behalf of the transmission system operator Amprion, the Federal Network Agency will determine to what extent the facility is still system-relevant, i.e. whether the two units will be shut down completely.
STEAG was able to keep its fleet of power stations active in the market for a long time by optimising the costs and earnings structure at an early stage. In spite of this, the consistently challenging market environment has ultimately led to a decline in the facilities’ profitability. “We are fighting to save each power station unit,” explains Joachim Rumstadt, Chairman of the Executive Board at STEAG. “Given the age of unit 7 in Lünen, however, it cannot be expected to generate sufficient profit contributions in future. Unit 6 is contracted to continue producing electricity for Deutsche Bahn until the end of 2018. Once that contract expires, we do not see any further profitability in this block either,” adds Joachim Rumstadt. STEAG plans to decommission units 6 and 7 once and for all on 2nd March 2019.
The persistently low wholesale prices for electricity are hampering the profitability of conventional large-scale power plants in Germany. This impact is also being felt by STEAG’s model power station unit in Völklingen-Fenne in the Saarland. It is STEAG’s intention to temporarily withdraw this unit from the grid over this year and next, with works taking place between April and late September of each year. This is also the plan for unit 7 in Lünen for this year.
“The final decommissioning of the two power station units in Lünen will result in job losses,” explains Ralf Meli, Chairperson of the STEAG Group’s Works Council. “Back in late 2016, we joined with the STEAG executive board and the IG BCE industrial union to devise a group social plan and a general balance of interests, in order to ensure the staff reductions were handled responsibly and without the need for any compulsory redundancies. We will now negotiate an individual balance of interest for the colleagues affected.”
STEAG permanently disconnected Voerde power station’s West 1 and 2 units from the grid back in March 2017, followed by Herne 3 in North Rhine-Westphalia in the summer of 2017. “Combined with the current measures, the adjustment process is complete for now. We see a bright future for our high-performing power stations in the Ruhr region,” adds Joachim Rumstadt. “We expect to see significant improvements in the economic conditions once the withdrawal from the nuclear energy programme is complete.” (STEAG/Si.)