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Modernisation of the power-station portfolio

RWE is currently in the final phase of the biggest power-station modernisation programme in the history of the company. This programme has also made the biggest contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions achieved so far.

Hard-coal and gas-fired power stations

The start-up of the lignite-fired dual-block power station with ‘Optimised Units’ (BoA 2&3) at the Neurath site while simultaneously shutting down 16 old 150 MW power-plant units from the 1960s is annually cutting 6 million metric t of CO2. This is equivalent to some 1.2 % of the emission volume which has been defined as the emissions ceiling laid down in Germany for the emissions trading sector. We have invested €2.6 billion in the ‘Optimised Units’ (BoA 2&3). The efficiency was increased by around 30 % to 43 % by comparison with the old plants that have been shut down. The plant has also been designed to compensate flexibly for fluctuating feed-in from renewable energies. The output of the power station can be reduced by 500 MW in just 15 minutes and increased again just as quickly.

Furthermore, we have completed the modernisation programme for our 600 MW units in the Rhineland industrial lignite mining area. The measures included renewal of control technology and an improvement in the cooling system. This enabled the flexibility of the plants to be significantly increased and the CO2 emissions to be reduced.

We also brought the gas-fired power station at Pembroke in the United Kingdom on stream as one of the most efficient combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations in Europe with a capacity of 2,180 MW. The electricity produced at Pembroke can supply around 3.5 million households. Pembroke Power Station represents an investment of £1 billion (€1.23 bn) by RWE.

In the south of the Netherlands, the combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station Claus C also came on stream in 2012. The plant has a capacity of 1,300 MW and replaces the existing gas-fired power station Claus B. The efficiency increases to 59 % compared with 38 % at Claus B, the specific CO2 emissions fall by nearly 40 %.

We hope to achieve a tangible contribution to the reduction of our specific CO2 emissions by bringing the two new CCGT plants on stream. However, the capacity utilisation of these plants leaves much to be desired due to the changed market situation in Continental Europe. Up to now, the use of gas-fired power stations has mainly yielded economic benefits when covering peak loads. This is a role that is increasingly being satisfied by photovoltaic plants around midday. The priority for feed-in of electricity from renewable energies has meanwhile resulted in a temporary surplus supply of electricity in the market since gas-fired power stations can no longer be operated economically at these times.