September 29, 2017 / 10:28 AM / a year ago

RWE moves two Frimmersdorf brown power blocks into reserve

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German utility RWE on Friday said it will take offline its Frimmersdorf P and Q brown coal-fired power-generation units from October 1, as agreed under a national brown coal reserve scheme.

FILE PHOTO: Steam billows from the RWE brown coal power plant in Frimmersdorf near Garzweiler open-cast brown coal mine, west of Cologne, December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The move, mostly relevant for supply in the wholesale power market, follows a 2015 plan to mothball highly carbon polluting power plants in order to try and meet Germany’s climate targets.

It comes at a time when a new government is forming, likely with participation of the Green party, that is gunning for both brown and hard coal power to disappear by 2030.

Germany is due to miss its self-imposed goal to cut CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, having achieved around 27 percent.

The two western German units of 300 megawatts (MW) each will be retained as reserve in case of emergencies for four years, after which they will be closed permanently, RWE said.

“The start of the safety reserve function is part of our carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction program in our brown coal activities, through which we contribute towards national and European climate targets like no other sector,” the head of RWE’s generation unit RWE Power, Matthias Hartung, said in a statement.

The reserve scheme encompasses a total 2,700 MW.

RWE is due to shut two more units at Niederaussem in 2018, one at Neurath in 2019, while east German mining firm Mibrag already put its Buschhaus plant into reserve last year.

Sector peer Vattenfall [VATN.UL] is due to close two units at Jaenschwalde in 2018 and 2019.

Campaign group Greenpeace said in 2015 that three times the 2,700 MW of coal capacity needed closing to hit the 40 percent target, but the utility industry has hit back and said the reductions should come from other areas, such as transport and heat.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Georgina Prodhan

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