04 September 2020

Vattenfall requests closure of Germany’s second-youngest coal power plant

Hamburg, 4 September 2020 – Swedish utility Vattenfall has leapt at the chance to shut down its five year-old, uneconomic Moorburg coal power plant by placing a bid in Germany’s very first hard coal closure auction. This is an indication that even Germany’s weak 2038 coal phase-out commitment is prompting utilities to abandon coal faster than expected.

The 1,640 MW Hamburg-based plant went online in 2015, making it the second youngest in Germany, and was expected to operate until 2033, in-line with the German government’s coal phase-out law. But with the value of the plant depreciating by EUR 2.5 billion [1], Vattenfall has decided to try and cut its losses, saying it will aim to close the plant by the middle of 2021 if it wins the tender.

“The decision to bring this new coal power plant online in 2015 – the year the world agreed to the UN Paris climate agreement – was hugely controversial, and has clearly backfired,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director. “The fact that Vattenfall has elected to pull the escape cord at the earliest possible stage is a clear admission that coal economics have collapsed. This should send a chill down the industry’s spine, and encourage anyone thinking of wasting more money into coal to focus on cheaper, healthier, and more job-rich renewable energy projects instead.” 

Already in 2015 a report by Carbon Tracker illustrated that Moorburg’s capital costs of over EUR 3 billion were unlikely to ever be recovered [2]. The plant has subsequently been hampered by court rulings that prevent it from connecting to Hamburg’s district heating system, and from using water from the River Elbe for cooling – forcing the company to construct expensive cooling towers, which it has to operate at all times [3].

“When a five year-old coal plant can’t turn a profit, it’s a clear sign that the industry is finished,” said Fabian Hübner, policy officer for energy and coal at Klima-Allianz. “The German Coal Act needs an urgent overhaul, because as things stand, taxpayers are going to be compensating utilities well into the next decade for coal plants that are already making a loss. Protests against coal have been happening up and down the country for many years. Citizens should not be forced to pay for the expensive gambles made by a dirty industry they have consistently opposed.”

 

Contacts:

Alastair Clewer, Communications Officer, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185

Kathrin Gutmann, Campaign Director, Europe Beyond Coal (German, English)
[email protected], + 49 (0) 1577 836 3036

Fabian Hübner, Policy Officer for Energy and Coal, Klima-Allianz (German, English)
[email protected], 49 (0)30 7808995-15

 

Notes:

  1. https://www.bund-hamburg.de/service/presse/detail/news/bund-fordert-transparenz-ueber-zukunft-des-kohlekraftwerks-moorburg/
  2. https://carbontracker.org/reports/eu_utilities/
  3. https://www.welt.de/regionales/hamburg/article214846416/Hamburg-Elbwasserkuehlung-des-Kraftwerks-Moorburg-rechtswidrig.html

 

About:

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu

 

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