04/08/2013, Hanover

BDEW publishes new power station list to coincide with the Hannover Messe:

Müller: Impending ice age in power plant construction

76 plants with 38,000 megawatts of output are planned / for almost one third of them, it is unclear whether they will ever come into service / investment conditions uncertain

“A new ice age in power plant construction is impending. The plans for plants to be implemented after 2015 are, in particular, to be put on ice even if the necessary authorisation has already been granted in part. Today, for almost a third of all projects, the date of commencement of operation is unclear. The investment conditions are currently simply too uncertain”, explained Hildegard Müller, Chairwoman of the General Executive Management Board of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft - BDEW) in a statement coinciding with the opening of the Hannover Messe. The industry association presented the new BDEW power station list at a press conference, covering all power stations with at least a 20 megawatt capacity. Müller attributed the uncertainty of investors to three fundamental reasons: unclear political conditions for a sustainable market design, the lack of profitability for gas and partly also for hard coal fired power stations as well as acceptance issues in the construction.

According to the BDEW power station list, a total of 76 power stations with an installed capacity of around 38,000 megawatts are in the planning stage, approval process, under construction or in trial operation. Natural gas fired power stations or offshore wind energy plants account for 50 of these projects. However, only 24 of the 76 planned power stations are actually being implemented. Three plants are in trial operation, 21 are under construction. For 22 further projects, the necessary approvals have been granted. 16 power stations are in the approval process and a further 13 projects are in the planning stage.

“It is especially noticeable that the binding investment decision is often yet to be made. Today, there is no information as to the date of commencement of operation for 22 power station projects”, said Müller. More and more often, the project is described as being subject to an assessment of economic viability, despite approval having already been granted. “As encouraging as the total figure for planned power stations is at first glance: this cannot be allowed to mask the fact that many investors are currently withholding or delaying the decision to commence construction of the power station until the last possible moment”, stressed Müller.

According to the BDEW power station list, 27 large power stations are due to begin operation in this year and next year alone. According to current plans, around 16,000 megawatts of new power station output is due to be installed by 2015. Müller stated, “In the short term several new conventional power stations and offshore wind farms will come online. The capacity situation will thus be temporarily improved. However, from 2016 the power station plans fall back considerably. There will, therefore, be no lasting relief for the market or the security of supply. It is imperative that we have a secure supply in order to balance out, where necessary, the fluctuating levels of power fed into the system by renewable energy.”

In this context, according to Müller, one must also consider that considerable capacity will be lost from the grid due to the accelerated phasing out of nuclear energy and the decommissioning of old power stations. In the period between 2013 and 2022, at least 16,000 megawatts of power station capacity will be decommissioned. “In the medium term, we will therefore not be adding sufficiently secure, new power station capacity in Germany in order to replace the lost power plants if the political framework conditions do not change”, emphasised Müller. “The matter is further complicated by the fact that the increasing economic inefficiency of conventional power stations is affecting not only new plants but also more and more existing plants.” In her words, the existing market system ensures that gas and hard coal fired power stations are increasingly subject to economic pressures. Müller explained, “Therefore, a further, unexpected decommissioning of power stations in the next few years cannot be ruled out.”

“The government has to address the issues related to the future market design in order to clarify the necessary framework conditions for the construction of new, efficient power station capacity, in particular for the time after 2020. The coalition agreement of the next German government must include the binding responsibility to develop a new market design without delay. By 2015, we should have clarity on what the new market design, which gradually combines conventional and renewable energies, can look like. This design should be ready early enough for it to take effect from 2020. A sufficient timeframe is required for the multi-billion euro investments in new power stations. BDEW will present its proposals in good time”, explained the Chairwoman of the General Executive Management Board of BDEW.

The BDEW power station list contains plants with over 20 megawatts of output. The construction projects are carried out by municipal utilities, large energy suppliers, a variety of different alliances and by private investors. In addition, there are numerous, small, decentralised projects, mainly implemented by municipal utilities, which are not included in this list.

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