As planned, seven more lignite-fired power plant blocks in Germany will be finally shut down at the end of March. The closure of all blocks had already been planned earlier. In order to save natural gas in electricity generation during the energy crisis, the federal government took five blocks from the so-called supply reserve. Two further blocks were allowed to continue running beyond the originally planned shutdown date. Everyone was allowed to sell their electricity wholesale. At the end of winter 2023/24 it will finally be over.

The blocks had been reactivated

Blocks E and F in the Niederaußem power plant in the Rhineland region and block C in the Neurath power plant were taken out of security standby. All of them belong to the energy company RWE. In the Lusatian district, blocks E and F were brought back from the Jänschwalde power plant, which belong to the Leag energy company. There were also two further units (D and E) of the RWE Neurath power plant, whose operation was extended.

To reactivate the systems from security standby, former employees also returned from retirement to their old jobs. Others postponed the start of their retirement.

Total output of around 3.1 gigawatts

In total, the seven blocks have an output of around 3.1 gigawatts. For comparison: the Datteln 4 hard coal power plant has an output of just under 1.1 gigawatts. According to the Federal Network Agency, there were a total of 245 gigawatts of electricity generation systems on the market in Germany in November. Of this, around 159 gigawatts came from renewable energy sources.

The network agency does not see any impairment of security of supply as a result of the closures. “The shutdowns are planned and taken into account in all supply forecasts. Security of supply is still guaranteed,” said a spokesman. Within the European network, electricity is generated where this is most cost-effective. “Germany and the other European countries mutually benefit from the most favorable production conditions.” The spokesman said that the cheapest generation technologies currently available would be used first.

Greenhouse gas emitted must be captured

The Federal Ministry of Economics is legally obliged to check how much additional greenhouse gas was emitted by the continued operation of coal-fired power plants. It must propose measures by the end of June to offset these additional emissions.

The Green Party member of the Bundestag, Kathrin Henneberger, said: “Emissions from the combustion of lignite and hard coal in Germany are historically enormous and are among the central causes of the climate crisis. It is all the better that Germany is now returning to the planned exit path.” However, given the worsening climate crisis, this is not enough, which is why they are also working on a massive expansion of renewable energies and networks in order to completely phase out coal power by 2030.