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    Uniper hastens its UK coal exit

Summary

The German utility is closing one of four units at a UK plant two years early.

by: William Powell

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Uniper hastens its UK coal exit

German utility Uniper is to close one of four 500-MW units at a UK coal-fired power plant two years earlier than necessary, saying August 4 it was seizing the chance of a faster exit from coal. It will cease generating at the end of September 2022.

The remaining three units at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar plant will go offline at the end of September 2024, the deadline set by the government, it said. By that date it will have fulfilled its obligations under the UK capacity market agreements to have plant available for the grid operator to call on, in return for a payment.

Uniper CEO Klaus Dieter Maubach said the company aimed to make the entire Uniper power plant portfolio in Europe CO2-neutral by 2035. Germany has set a target of 2038 for the closure of the final coal plant and this has driven the need to convert plants to gas or hydrogen power. 

"To achieve this, we must seize every opportunity that comes our way. In the case of Ratcliffe, we want to take one unit off the grid more quickly," it said.

Uniper is now looking at options for transforming the 50-yr old site to allow the best opportunity for retaining the workforce.

"Our ambitious goal is to start building an energy recovery facility on part of the power station site at the end of next year and to have this facility fully operational by 2025. This will be a first step towards realising our broader vision of generating electricity and heat in a sustainable way," it said.

Germany is facing a dilemma, with the enforced closure of nuclear capacity at the end of next year. Despite large subsidies, renewable energy has proved unreliable this year on both sides of the English Channel, barely operating owing to prolonged cold periods with little wind in northwest Europe.