Germany plans to put idled coal plants on standby in case of gas supply disruption

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A general view of the WINGAS gas storage facility near the northern German town of Rehden January 7, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Charisius/File Photo

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BERLIN, May 24 (Reuters) - Germany is planning to use coal-fired power stations which would have been idled this year and next as reserve facilities in case of disruption to gas supplies from Russia, economy ministry sources said on Tuesday.

The proposals, drawn up by the ministry as part of precautionary measures in case of a gas shortage, would run until March 31, 2024 as Germany tries to cut its dependence on Russian fossil fuels after the invasion of Ukraine, the sources said.

In particular, gas, which accounted for 15% of power production input last year, must be prioritised for industry and heating homes if a bottleneck arises, making it necessary to draw on idled coal capacity to fill the gaps, they said.

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Under the provision, a total 8.5 gigawatts (GW) of brown, hard coal-fired and a small amount of oil-fired generation capacity, all already, or due to be idled in 2022 and 2023, would be enabled by their operators to provide electricity on demand.

Participation in the scheme would be voluntary and operators would be compensated from public funds for holding feedstock ready, and for providing the necessary technical assistance.

The sources said that maintaining coal capacity in a state of readiness would not mean that plants emit additional carbon emissions, stressing that the plan would not derail Germany's overall goal to stop using coal for power generation by 2030.

The scheme would not drive up power prices because coal-fired generation is relatively cheaper than using gas, they added.

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Reporting by Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Vera Eckert and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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