December 4, 2022

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Coal-fired power plants are running faster, but they still look back |  Currently

Coal-fired power plants are running faster, but they still look back | Currently

Coal-fired power plants have been allowed to run faster for a month and they do so, energy firms RWE and Uniper told NU.nl. The Cabinet announced last month that it would end restrictions on the production of coal-fired power plants. There is uncertainty between companies, because the procedure is not specified in the law.

Since January 1, the brakes have been put in place on coal-fired power plants in order to meet the Cabinet’s climate goals. As a result, the Netherlands’ four power plants have been allowed to run on coal for up to 35 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions on an annual basis. And the foot came off the brake pedal at the end of last month to ease the severity of gas stations. The idea is that the gas saved in this way can be stored for the next winter.

Both RWE and Uniper say they have been using more coal in electricity production since the Cabinet decision. The company says RWE’s Eemshaven power plant is running at full speed again. Nothing has changed for the other coal-fired power plant of German energy company Amercentrale. It is produced largely from biomass (80 percent) and the rest by charcoal.

Uniper, which owns one of the two power plants in Rotterdam Maasvlakte, says it runs faster every now and then. “Now we are basically looking for where we can meet the demand for energy. And that’s different every day,” says Andre Bosman, director of Uniper. The other power plant on Maasvlakte, the Onyx plant, is currently not in use due to maintenance.

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Looking back when expanding

Energy companies were taken aback when Minister Rob Getten (Climate and Energy) announced that coal-fired power plants were being allowed to fire again. This made it questionable whether they could expand quickly. We’ve been successful in the short term, but that becomes less certain the more we look into the future.

“It depends, for example, on our coal stock, which we will have to replenish soon. And when we replenish it, it depends again on the purchase price. Then they have to be brought here as well,” an RWE spokesperson says.

Another factor is that lifting production restrictions on coal-fired power plants has only been talked about loudly, and not yet put into law. This will not happen until after the summer. “As a result, we’re monitoring 35 percent on an annual basis. When that limit gets close, we’ll look: Has the law really been passed and can we continue?” said Bosman of Uniper.