Future of Irsching gas-fired power plant uncertain

A new state-of-the-art gas-fired power plant in Bavaria, Germany may have to be closed due to lack of profitability.

While the German government paid owner E.ON to keep theà‚ Irsching plant open in 2013 in order to secure access to base load generation on a one off arrangement, the continuing crisis in the sector might see the facility closed in 2016.

Dr Dr. Adrian Schaffranietz, Political Affairs and Corporate Communications Officer with E.ON told Power Engineering International, “The economic prospects of the Irsching gas-fired power plant are extremely critical. The changed energy policy environment has marginalized its position in the market to a point where it can hardly recoup its costs. With the market situation having deteriorated further over the last few years, the plant’s continued operation after the end of the present contractual arrangement is at risk.”

IrschingGerman broadcaster ARD reported on Friday, that the company was considering mothballing the plant as cheaper coal-powered units and expanding, subsidised wind and solar generation capacity continue to impact on gas power plants.

As part of the country’s Energiewende (energy transition) policy, nuclear power plants are being taken out of the German power mix, yet they still need gas and coal power plants for energy security purposes.

Utilities have called for state compensation and warned of potential supply risks if they shutter loss-making gas-fired plants.

In April 2013 a deal was struck between E.ON and grid operator TenneT, approved by the regulator, under which it kept open the Irsching 4 and 5 gas-fired blocks in return for an annual double-digit million euro payment for each block for keeping them available for power.

The two blocks were put under a so-called redispatch agreement between April 2013 and March 2016. That agreement has since been called a one-off.

Under German state rules, should E.ON wish to close the blocks for good after March 2016, it must notify the regulator this month to provide the required 12-month advanced notice. Utilities cannot unilaterally close plants as they may be deemed necessary to secure network operations.

A spokesman for Bonn-based regulator Bundesnetzagentur said his agency had not yet received an application for closure from E.ON.

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