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German EnBW plans to close 250 MW of old coal-fired power plants


German utility EnBW said Friday that it plans to close two older coal-fired power plant units with a combined capacity of 250 MW at its Heilbronn site in southwestern Germany.

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The decision is based upon the rapid and structural change in Germany's energy mix, EnBW said. Especially the boom in renewable power installations is putting older fossil-fueled power plants under economical pressure, reducing their running times and making an economical viable operation less likely for such marginal plants, it added.

The two units to be closed (HLB5 and HLB6) were commissioned in the 1960s, it said. The third unit at Heilbronn is not affected by the decision, it added.

According to the statement, the grid operator and the federal grid agency will be informed as soon as possible and have to decide whether the units can be taken offline.

Germany's new energy law calls for a 12-month-notice period for planned power plant switch-offs during which TSOs and the grid regulator evaluate whether the units are of a "system-critical nature." In January, EnBW said that it has filed a complaint against the decision of the grid regulator to reject its earlier application for the closure of four power plant units with a combined 668-MW capacity.

The grid operator considers the plants all located in southwestern Germany "system-critical," which means that the plants have to be kept online until July 2016, it said.

EnBW filed its application to close four conventional fossil-fueled power plants at Walheim and Marbach in southwestern Germany in July 2013.

Power plant operators in Germany have to register planned power plant closures at least one year in advance with the grid regulator, which has to analyze whether the plant is needed for the stability of the power grid.

--Andreas Franke,
--Edited by Jonathan Dart,