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Niederaussem lignite-fired Power Station | RWE
Niederaussem lignite-fired Power Station | RWE

Lignite-fired power station

Niederaussem Power Station

Facts and figures

Power plant location Bergheim-Niederaussem, North Rhine-Westphalia             
Power plant type Lignite-fired power plant with 5 units
Commissioned in
Electrical output (gross)
3,641 MW
Electrical output (net) 2.195 MW
Number of units
2 units E & F (300MW)
2 units G & H (600MW)
1 unit K (1,000MW)

A power plant with a long tradition

The locality of Niederaussem has been closely associated with electricity production since 1963. The power plant still supplies millions of people reliably with electricity to this day – and it sets new standards in developing innovative technologies for climate-friendly power generation.

A living piece of history

In 1963, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), predecessor of RWE Power AG, commissioned the first two units. With a generation capacity of 150 megawatts, they represented state-of-the-art technology at the time; in 1955, units of the same dimension went on stream in Frimmersdorf and Weisweiler. With the increasing demand for electricity, the capacity of new units became bigger and bigger. In 1965, RWE commissioned the first 300-MW unit, and in 1974 the first one with an output of 600 MW, at the Niederaussem site. In 2003, a new record in power plant technology was achieved, when Block K was built with a gross output of 1,000 MW. Since the boiler houses also had to become higher with the increasing unit sizes, the history of technology is reflected in the skyline of the Niederaussem power plant, with building height increasing from left to right.

Reducing emissions – boosting efficiency

The latest addition to the site is unit K, aka "Konrad" or "BoA1". "BoA" is the German acronym for lignite-fired power station with optimised plant engineering. Many improvements at different stages of the production process ensure particularly efficient and thus more environmentally friendly power generation. The unit burns approximately 850 tonnes of coal per hour, creating 2,500 tonnes of steam. The power plant unit's turbine has a capacity of just above 1,000 megawatts (MW). This is sufficient to supply electricity to a city the size of Cologne, with one million inhabitants in 265,000 households plus industry. Efficiency of the unit is over 43 per cent, a world record for lignite-fired power plants. This reduces lignite use per generated kilowatt hour and thus CO2 and other emissions.

Units E and F temporarily return to the electricity market

The two 300-megawatt units E and F are among the three RWE lignite-fired units that have been on standby and will temporarily return to the electricity market in order to strengthen security of supply and reduce the need for gas in electricity generation. The German government has issued an ordinance necessary for this within the framework of the Substitute Power Stations Act (German: Ersatzkraftwerkebereithaltungsgesetz). The deployment is initially limited until 30 June 2023.

German coal-phase out: Unit D was first to go

As a matter of the German gradual coal phase-out, all lignite and hard coal-fired power plants will be decommissioned. Implementing the Federal Coal Phase-Out Act, on New Year’s Eve of 2020, RWE decommissioned Unit D followed by Unit C one year later. Units A and B have long since been switched off.

RWE Innovation Centre

BoA1 is the focal point of RWE Power's Innovation Centre. There, the company operates a number of research plants. Examples include our CO2 flue gas scrubbing pilot system, a Power-to-X testing station for the production of e-fuels at laboratory scale and a so-called multi fuel conversion plant where phosphorus, hydrogen, and carbon are recovered from sewage sludge and other gasified substances.

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