Statkraft considers shutting ‘unprofitable’ gas-fired plants

Statkraft is considering closing down two of its natural gas-fired power plants in Germany with a total capacity of 950 MW as a rise in wind power generation and low power prices make the plants unprofitable.

The plants ran at just 10 per cent of the 2010 rate in 2011.

The facilities in question are the 450MW combined gas and steam plant in Emden and the 499 MW combined gas and steam plant in Landesbergen. Both are located in Lower Saxony, where the coastline has been the focus for Germany’s offshore wind farms.

Lower Saxony hosted 6.8 GW of installed wind power capacity in 2011, according to data from the federal environment agency, UBA.

The Norwegian utility expects to make a decision about whether to keep the plants running in the coming weeks, it confirmed to ICIS Heren.

Under German law, power from renewable energy gets priority access to the grid. This means that on a day with high wind power generation but no increase in demand, utilities need to reduce or shut down production at conventional power plants in order to avoid overloading the grid.

Statkraft said the two gas-fired plants were running for only about 50 hours each in 2011 in grid balancing measures, even though in order for the plants to be profitable, they need to run between 1,0003,000 hours/year, Statkraft said.

Other gas-fired Statkraft plants seem to be unaffected, and the utility confirmed that it did not consider shutting down any other plants.

Last autumn, Statkraft extended its 800 MW gas and steam power plant in Huerth-Knapsack, located in western Germany, by constructing a second combined natural gas and steam power plant with 430 MW capacity, expected to be completed in 2013

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