The operators of Germany's Irsching 4 and 5 gas-fired power plants are taking legal measures after the plants were required to continue running to safeguard the security of local electricity supplies without, they argue, fair reward.
The plants are both modern and highly-efficient, but have faced difficulties in the current gas/power market environment. Gas-fired power plants are required to meet peaks in demand, but on a day-to-day basis can struggle to compete against low-running-cost nuclear and renewable plant.
The operators requested last March to temporarily close the plants, but system operator TenneT required them to remain available. The operators are now looking for compensation.
Uniper, operator of the 561-MW Irsching 4 plant, February 26 launched a legal action in the Bavarian District Court against a ban on decommissioning the plant. Uniper wants to halt the plant from April 1, and says its rights are not being respected. Eckhardt Rummler, chief operating officer for power generation at Uniper, said: "If we are forced to maintain the Irsching 4 power plant as an emergency reserve, this is an invasion of our fundamental right to property. The least that we expect is the proper remuneration of our expenses."
Irsching unit 5 has capacity of 845 MW and is operated by Uniper (50.2%) with fellow German companies N-Ergie (25.2%), Mainova (15.6%) and Entega (9%). These companies applied to the Dusseldorf District Court for support, also on February 26. They say they have not been adequately rewarded for operating the plant over the last three years.
The CEO of Mainova, Constantin Alsheimer, said: "We have been forced against our will to keep the power plant in operation. We have not received a compensation which fully recovers our costs. This is a confiscatory intervention. We therefore call for a cost-covering compensation for the continued operation of the power plant."
Carbon dioxide prices are not high enough to support the gas-fired power plants against dirtier coal-fired plants. Marie Luise Wolff Hertwig, CEO of Entega, said that Irsching was "a particularly flexible and climate-friendly gas-fired power plant of the latest design," but in the current German power market "an old lignite (coal) plant is much more profitable than an ultra-modern gas plant."
The operators have called for government action to address the situation.