Germany Shutters Seven More Coal-Fired Power Units

Two German energy companies said they shut down seven coal-fired power plants over the Easter holiday weekend, taking more than 3,000 MW of generation capacity offline for decommissioning.

The German government, which already has called for an end to coal-fired power generation in that country, had allowed the units to continue operating through the winter as Germany continues to reduce its dependency on natural gas from Russia after that country’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

RWE Power said it closed five coal-fired units at the Grevenbroich-Neurath and Bergheim-Niederaussemin power stations on March 31. The lignite-fired power plants in total had 2,100 MW of generation capacity.

LEAG said two of its coal-fired units, at Jänschwalde in the eastern state of Brandenburg, near Berlin, also were shuttered, taking another 1,000 MW offline. Two 500-MW units at the site were restarted at the start of the winter season to support the country’s power supply.

RWE Closes 4.2 GW of Capacity

RWE has now shut down 12 coal-fired units, with a total generation capacity of 4,200 MW, during the past three years. The utility said it will shut down the 300-MW Block F at the Weisweiler power plant by year-end, leaving just seven of the company’s coal-burning power stations in operation. RWE has said it plans to shutter all its coal-fired units by 2030.

Officials in Germany said that with the 2023-24 winter season over, grid operators do not expect problems with the country’s power supply as result of taking the coal-fired generation offline.

The 300-MW Neurath C and Niederaussem E and F units, among those closed on Sunday, had been available on a standby basis for the past few years. The 600-MW Neurath D and E units, originally scheduled to be closed at year-end 2022 in accordance with Germany’s phase-out of coal-fired power, had been allowed to operate through the end of March this year due to fears of a power shortage due to curtailed shipments of natural gas from Russia.

From the Energy Charts graphs from the Fraunhofer Institute…

In March of 2023, Germany exported a net 2068 GWh of electricity for the month.

A year later, in March of 2024, Germany imported a net 2116 GWh.

This is about 2.8 GW of continuous power for the month, or about the same as three, 1 GW power plants. In early 2023, Germany still had some nuclear plants operating. Now, with all of the nuclear plants shut down, as well as some coal and lignite plants off line, Germany is a net importer of power from its neighbors.

From the link here, the majority of the imported power came from France (mostly nuclear) and Denmark (mostly wind power). The Germans are happy to have shut down all of their nuclear plants, but they don’t mind importing nuclear generated power from France.

  • Pete

In January 2024 Germany exported a net 1295 GWh of electricity. So it is not all that bad.

The French were happy to import German generated power when many of their nuclear plants had major problems needing repairs for at least 5 years: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

That is not what the data shows.

2018 - France exported a net 61.7 TWh
2019 - France exported a net 56.5 TWh
2020 - France exported a net 44.3 TWh
2021 - France exported a net 44.3 TWh
2022 - France imported a net 16.4 TWh
2023 - France exported a net 50.3 TWh

The only outlier is 2022. The inspections and repairs were done to some plants. So far in 2024, France is again exporting more of its very low carbon power to its neighbors.

https://energy-charts.info/charts/energy/chart.htm?l=en&c=FR&source=total&stacking=stacked_absolute&sum=0&partsum=0&interval=year&chartColumnSorting=default&legendItems=0100000000000000&year=-1

  • Pete
1 Like

You did not read my post correctly. I said France imported electricity from Germany in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. France did not export any electricity to Germany in those 5 years.

2018 -

Your post said the French nuclear plants had “major problems” in 2018 and 2019. There is no evidence of this based on actual generation data, and I am not aware of any “major problems”.

Just because France imported some power from Germany in previous years doesn’t mean there were big problems with the French nuclear plants. When looking at the whole picture, France was exporting more power than it was importing, with the exception of 2022. If Germany wants to drive the wholesale price of power down when the wind is blowing, then France might import some of those megawatts. But overall, in the long run, Germany doesn’t have as many reliable, dispatchable sources of power that it once had.

  • Pete
1 Like

Reduced output in 2022 was due to: repairs for or investigations of corrosion issues that were first detected at Civaux 1 in December 2021 (for more information see below); the knock-on effect of planned outages being delayed or reduced in scope in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic; and industrial action. EDF recorded a record net loss of €17.9 billion in 2022.

Nuclear Power in France | French Nuclear Energy - World Nuclear Association.

Nuclear electricity generation in France from 2000 to 2023 shows that nuclear generation has been declining since 2015. This reduction must be related to some problems with nuclear power plants or a lack of demand or a closure of two reactors in 2020.

The reduction in nuclear generation is partially due to a reduction in overall load demand, but also because of the new solar and wind farms that France has built. The renewables are expensive, but since they are already built, then EDF might as well operate them. This results in a slight decrease in nuclear. France can only export so much power. The transmission lines between the countries have a certain maximum load they can handle.

  • Pete

Most of French electricity production is already from zero emission sources (88%), primarily nuclear power (63% share in 2022). Wind and solar reached 12% of French electricity in 2022, up from 5% in 2015. However, this growth has been primarily at the expense of nuclear power rather than fossil fuels, which have maintained a low share. Last year, French nuclear power suffered a further fall with large-scale maintenance and safety outages, leading to a 22% shortfall in output compared to the previous year.

To limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, France must phase out coal by 2030 and fully decarbonise electricity by 2035. France has already committed to phase out coal by 2024, but has yet to set a date to fully decarbonise electricity.

France did not reduce their coal and natural gas electrical generation, but decided to reduce their nuclear electrical generation (2015 to 2020).

France’s electricity generation from fossil fuels is very low. In 2023, French coal plants produced 0.9 TWh of electricity. In Germany, the combined hard and brown coal plants produced 116.5 TWh last year. Germany will still generate much more power from coal, even after they closed down the 3 GW mentioned in the original post. Germany also produces more electricity from natural gas than France.

Germany’s coal-fired capacity is now somewhere around 34 GW after the recent shutdowns. France’s coal-fired capacity is 2 GW.

It is probably impossible to completely shut down all fossil generation. There are some outlying islands, such as Corsica in the Mediterranean, that needs its own dispatchable generation. Natural gas or oil is probably the best choice in those situations. (Hawaii is an example of this in the US. I also remember taking a trip to Catalina island off the coast of California several years ago. Diesel generators provide the power. I visited the island’s seawater desalination plant, and the diesel generators are right next door.)

  • Pete

Yes coal only produced 0.9 TWh of electricity, but coal is not the only fossil fuel used by France in electricity generation in 2023 as shown below:
Fossil gas produced 28.0 TWh which is about 31 times more than coal produced.
Fossil oil produced 1.7 TWh is about 2 times more than coal produced.
Therefore, France’s electricity generation from fossil fuel is NOT very low.

https://energy-charts.info/charts/energy/chart.htm?l=en&c=FR&source=public&stacking=stacked_absolute&sum=0&partsum=0&interval=year&chartColumnSorting=default&legendItems=1111111111111111110&year=2023

And nuclear produced 319 TWh! You can calculate the multiplier. Suffice to say that France’s electricity was over 90% carbon-free last year, thanks mostly to the nuclear power fleet. Very few countries can claim such a high percentage of carbon-free power. (Germany isn’t one of them.)

  • Pete
1 Like

And yet France is in the EU dog house for not meeting requirements for renewables!

France refuses to pay up for failing to meet renewable energy targets

In 2009, the government pledged to achieve a share of 23% renewables (wind, solar, hydro) in its gross final energy consumption by 2020. But it only reached 20.7% in 2022.

France refuses to pay up for failing to meet renewable energy targets.

Despite a set of fresh new decarbonisation goals published last year, starting with the progressive phaseout of fossil fuels, France seems more focused on deploying new nuclear reactors – which will likely cost more than expected – than making up for the gap between the development of its clean energy sources and those of other countries in the European Union. Whether the development pace is too slow for some or the targets not ambitious enough for others, the EU executive is keeping France under close watch. The government pledged to pursue its efforts in adapting to climate change with a series of proposals set to be adopted mid-2024. This regularly updated factsheet provides an overview of France’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

FACTSHEET

05 Apr 2024, 09:30

Camille Lafrance Juliette Portala

CLEW Guide – France awaits key climate legislation, government keeps focus on nuclear

Policy Elections & Politics EU

Despite a set of fresh new decarbonisation goals published last year, starting with the progressive phaseout of fossil fuels, France seems more focused on deploying new nuclear reactors – which will likely cost more than expected – than making up for the gap between the development of its clean energy sources and those of other countries in the European Union. Whether the development pace is too slow for some or the targets not ambitious enough for others, the EU executive is keeping France under close watch. The government pledged to pursue its efforts in adapting to climate change with a series of proposals set to be adopted mid-2024. This regularly updated factsheet provides an overview of France’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. [UPDATES throughout]


Photo shows climate protesters in Paris, France. Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash.

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash.

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Key background

I can understand why. The purpose of the renewable targets is to decarbonize the economy. Nuclear does that.

DB2