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German gas plant capacity set to exceed coal/lignite in 2023


Regulator's power plant list shows 27 GW gas online

2.4 GW new gas to be added 2021/22 vs coal closures

Dispatchable capacity (ex-RES) to drop below 60 GW

  • Author
  • Andreas Franke
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Coal Electric Power Natural Gas

London — Germany's gas-fired generation capacity is set to exceed that of coal and of lignite within two years as total dispatchable capacity drops below 60 GW, regulator BNetzA's latest power plant list shows.

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Some 27.2 GW of gas plant was in the market this January with 2.4 GW to be added over the next two years, according to the bi-annual list dated Jan. 19.

Hard-coal capacity was pegged at 16.2 GW and lignite at 17.8 GW after some 5 GW were removed from the market end-2020.

Set for closure by end-2022 are 1.5 GW from the second closure compensation auction for hard-coal plant this month as well as yet to be established volumes from rounds 3 and 4, reducing hard-coal capacity well below the 15 GW target by Jan. 2023.

Lignite capacity will fall to 15.3 GW by Jan. 2023 with 2.5 GW of units scheduled to come offline linked to RWE's Hambach mine, the list shows.

Outside the market, some 2.4 GW of lignite currently in the security reserve for four years after a first wave of closures started 2016 will also be decommissioned with that reserve replenished by the next units coming offline.

Germany also has a so-called grid reserve mainly including power plant considered system relevant dispatched by grid operators.

In addition, TSOs have awarded three 300 MW tenders for so-called grid stability units to Uniper, EnBW and RWE to help stabilize the grid once the final reactors shut end-2022 with the highly flexible open-cycle turbines to be operated outside the market.

Nuclear capacity is to fall to zero with 4 GW set for closure end-2021 and end-2022 respectively.

5 GW boost from new, returning units

New gas capacity to come onto the market before 2023 include VW's Wolfsburg CCGTs (400 MW), Uniper's Scholven unit (135 MW) and Steag's Herne 6 (625 MW) as well as a number of smaller urban CHP and industrial power plants, the BNetzA list shows.

The list, which used to track planned closure applications by operators with over 100 units and a combined capacity of over 20 GW since 2012, now only lists 373 MW of planned closures by 2023 outside the coal and nuclear exit frameworks, removing some 17 GW of capacity between 2020 and end-2022.

2020 saw the commissioning of Uniper's 1.1 GW Datteln 4 as the last new coal plant in Germany, while 4.8 GW of coal units awarded closure compensation exited the market end-2020 including 2.4 GW of units commissioned just five years ago.

Meanwhile, Uniper and partners returned 1.4 GW of CCGT at Irsching to the market, withdrawing earlier than planned a temporary closure application and boosting gas-fired generation last quarter.

German gas plant output rose to a 10-year high in December, TSO data show, with gas the only fossil fuel to expand its share in the power mix in 2020.

GERMAN PLANT CAPACITY (ex reserve outside market)

Change 2021/22

Source: BNetzA (excluding round 3+4 closure auctions)