Not so much natural gas should be used to generate electricity. For this reason, hard coal reserve power plants have recently been allowed to produce electricity again for a few months. A kiln has now been registered for this.

To combat the impending gas shortage, a first reserve coal-fired power plant is returning to the electricity market. It is the Mehrum power plant in Hohenhameln, Lower Saxony (Peine district) between Hanover and Braunschweig, which belongs to the Czech energy group EPH. At the request of the German Press Agency, the authority announced that it was the only “market return” of a power plant that had been reported to the Federal Network Agency. Since July 14, an ordinance has allowed hard coal-fired power plants from the so-called grid reserve to be put back into operation in order to save natural gas.

The power plant has been back online since Sunday noon, said the managing director of the operating company, Armin Fieber, on Monday. The system will now be in operation for at least 14 days to stabilize the grid. It remained unclear on Monday whether the power plant had returned to the electricity market in a formal sense.

According to the operator, the Mehrum power plant has been in reserve since the beginning of December 2021. It has a net capacity of 690 megawatts. The “Braunschweiger Zeitung” had previously reported on the planned return of Mehrum to the electricity market.

The federal government’s ordinance allows electricity to be sold from reserve power plants that are fired with hard coal or oil until the end of April 2023. Starting up again for several months is economically interesting for power plant operators because wholesale electricity prices are currently high. At the same time, there is sufficient hard coal on the world market. The measure is intended to force natural gas out of the electricity market.

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In addition to the already valid ordinance for hard coal and oil power plants, an ordinance for restarting brown coal power plants that have already been shut down is also being prepared for the beginning of October. In addition, there is a gas saving regulation that is intended to prevent the unnecessary generation of electricity from natural gas. “The ordinance is currently being prepared and will come into force when it becomes apparent that even more gas needs to be saved in power generation,” the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced on July 21.