The Wilhelmshaven coal-fired power station (757 megawatts) is already set to cease electricity generation and to be shut down for good until 8 December 2021.
This is provided for in the schedule set out by the German Law on the Reduction and Termination of Coal-Fired Power Generation (Gesetz zur Reduzierung und Beendigung der Kohleverstromung) of August 13, 2020 for the power plants that were awarded closure by the German Federal Network Agency in the second round of auctions held on January 4. The Federal Network Agency announced the bid for the plant in Wilhelmshaven had been approved.
Uniper presented a plan for closing its coal-fired power plants in Germany in January last year. This plan aims to save up to 18 million metric tons of CO2 per year. It also set out that Uniper intends to close the coal-fired power plant blocks at the Gelsenkirchen Scholven, Heyden, Staudinger and Wilhelmshaven sites by the end of 2025 at the latest. These power plants have a combined total output of around 2900 megawatts.
The Wilhelmshaven power plant was commissioned in 1976 and is one of the pioneers of flue gas purification. Germany’s first desulfurization plant went into operation here in 1978. Wilhelmshaven is set to remain an energy hub even after the end of coal-fired power generation, which is why a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure is currently being constructed.
Uniper is working in collaboration with the companies Rhenus and Salzgitter on a feasibility study to plan and implement a plant for direct reduction using hydrogen during the production of iron ore. The nearby port provides the opportunity to import hydrogen or other forms of gas on a large scale (project “Green Wilhelmshaven”). Other options include joining the neighboring Huntorf compressed air storage power plant and connecting to the gas storage system.
A reconciliation of interests is currently being prepared for the approximately 116 employees at the Wilhelmshaven power plant. The intention is to transfer as much of the workforce as possible to the new projects. In a partial reconciliation of interests, the formation of a residual organization for the operation of the Wilhelmshaven power plant group after the closure of the hard coal unit has already been agreed. In addition to the hard coal-fired power plant, the Wilhelmshaven power plant group includes the compressed air storage power plant in Huntorf and the fully automated Audorf and Itzehoe gas turbine power plants in Schleswig-Holstein.
The German Federal Network Agency will be accepting bids for the closure of further coal plants on fixed dates until 2026. Participants in the auction offer to close a power plant at the time set out in their bid, in return for a payment of the bid value submitted by the participant. In the first auction, which began on September 1, 2020, a capacity of four gigawatts was tendered; in the second auction on January 4, 2021, 1.5 gigawatts were tendered. The third auction for around 2.5 gigawatts of capacity is scheduled for April 30.
“We want to move toward clean forms of energy as quickly as possible. Hydrogen and green gases will play a central role in this shift. We will talk to each of our employees concerned at the site about either an alternative job within the company or an alternative offer based on the reconciliation of interests.”David Bryson, COO of Uniper