Berlin Hamburg, Germany: A year after the last smoke from the Moorburg coal-fired power plant’s imposing chimneys cleared into the sky, hopes are high that new life will be breathed into the closed site as Germany scrambles to secure its energy supply. was Russia’s cut in gas exports to Germany in the wake of the Ukraine war forced Berlin to make a radical decision to restart its coal-fired power plants, at least temporarily.

However, infrastructure issues, labor shortages and logistical issues are major obstacles to reopening. Moorburg operator Vattenfall dashed hopes of a new operation, simply saying it was “technically, economically and legally not viable”. “Many parts have been dismantled and sold,” said Robert Wacker, the site’s director.

Even power plants that weren’t completely shut down and were primed to generate power only occasionally are struggling to fully restart. Further south in Moorburg, energy group Uniper will start up its Heyden 4 site, which has been a standby plant since mid-2021, on Monday. But the company warned that production would be affected by rail capacity limitations in transporting coal to the site.


Germany has started scaling back its coal-fired power plants in recent years as it looks to reach its goal of ending the use of fossil fuels by 2030. They believe it is retaliation for their support for Kyiv. The government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has said it will stick to a 2030 coal phase-out plan, but in the meantime 27 shut down power plants or he has been set up to close the energy gap by March 2024. Approved the restart of the power plant.

With 875 megawatts (MW) of capacity, Uniper’s Heyden 4 is the largest on the list. But the Moorburg factory outside Hamburg was one of the most modern in the world. It closed in the summer of 2021, just six years into service, in exchange for a public subsidy program aimed at cutting coal out of Germany’s energy mix.

Since then, operators have started dismantling and selling unnecessary parts for hydrogen, a priority for Germany’s future energy source. Prior to its closure, the plant produced a significant amount of approximately 11 billion kilowatts per year. This corresponds to the electricity consumption of the city of Hamburg.

But now the installation is not complete. Thousands of tiny components are packed into boxes in the Turbine Hall. The rotor, which is the part that turns the turbine, is packed in aluminum and shipped. The transformer also stopped working.

“Without transformers, power plants are no longer connected to the network and cannot generate electricity,” says Vattenfall. Gudrun Bode, the operator’s spokesman, noted rust build-up on components over the last year.


With winter approaching, the competition for Germany to increase its power generation capacity is becoming more intense. But so far only one He of Mehrum power plant with a capacity of 690 MW has been restarted. In addition to technical problems, power companies are suffering from severe labor shortages. At Moorburg, “Most of the people who left either found work or retired,” says Wacker. The energy giant RWE told AFP he was looking for hundreds of workers as he prepared to restart three power plants, each with a capacity of 300 MW. rice field. Logistics also proved difficult as the drought put additional pressure on the distribution network.

The Rhine is an important route for coal transportation to western power plants. But last week’s record-low water levels restricted shipments and forced suppliers to resort to rail transport, putting further pressure on strained freight trains. It will be limited in part by limited rail capacity to carry coal.” Energy supplier STEAG also said he will operate two coal-fired power plants from stockpiles.

It has targeted November as a possible reopening date, but also notes that current regulations require the site to supply coal for 30 days. To ease congestion, Berlin decided Wednesday to prioritize coal and oil cargo over passenger traffic this winter. – AFP

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