RWE is decommissioning its last two hard coal power stations in Germany, marking a significant decarbonisation milestone for the company.
Roger Miesen, chief executive of RWE Generation, said the closing of the plants at Westfalen in Hamm and Ibbenbüren “marks the end of the era of hard-coal generation in Germany”.
“This is another important step for RWE towards climate-neutrality by 2040. We are rigorously pursuing this goal while also taking responsibility for our colleagues at both locations. Respect and thanks go to them. Shift by shift, they have worked hard as a team for a reliable supply of electricity in Germany.”
The Westfalen site generator of Block E is to be repurposed as a rotating phase shifter and will provide reactive power for voltage stability – an important service for stabilising the electricity grid. This has no effect on RWE’s carbon footprint, as no coal is burned to operate a phase shifter.
Unit B of the Ibbenbüren power plant was not classified as systemically relevant by the Federal Network Agency, so the decommissioning of the power plant is now beginning.
In December 2020, in the first nationwide decommissioning auction for hard-coal power stations, RWE Generation had received the tenders both for the 800MW Block E at the Westfalen power station, as well as for the 800MW Block B at Ibbenbüren power station.
As a result, since the beginning of this year, RWE has no longer been allowed to sell electricity from these stations. As part of a mandatory six-month preparedness phase, the Westfalen station went online 13 times for reasons of security of supply on the request of the transmission system operator.
Now this phase has also ended and from 8 July no more coal may be fired at either of these two locations. The decommissioning of the hard-coal units is a further important step towards climate-neutrality, which RWE plans to achieve by 2040.
Leonhard Zubrowski, works council chair at RWE Generation, emphasised: “Even though the decision has been public since December, these are difficult days again for the workforce at the two locations.
“It is all the more important, therefore, that all staff are offered prospects as soon as possible. In this context, the fact that we completed the regulations for socially responsible staff reductions at an early stage is paying off.
“In this way, those affected can be provided with clarity about their future as quickly as possible. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their great dedication.
“With their knowledge and years of experience, they have ensured that the plants were always ready to go when they were needed and thus contributed to the secure supply of electricity.”
Since they were commissioned, the two units have produced a total of 158 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to supply the equivalent of 35 million private households with electrical energy for one whole year.
RWE is consistently phasing out coal: In the UK and Germany, there are no longer any hard coal-fired power plants in operation, and by 2030, a total of two-thirds of RWE’s lignite-fired power plant capacity will have been taken off the grid.