East German lignite mine ordered to shut down

  • Market: Electricity, Emissions
  • 08/29/19

The east German lignite mine of Jaenschwalde, which supplies a 2.3GW power plant, will have to close down temporarily by 1 September, pending completion of an environmental impact assessment, a high court ordered today.

The higher administrative court of Berlin-Brandenburg confirmed a ruling in June by the administrative court of Cottbus, to the effect that the extension of the mine's operation this year was invalid, as the mine's operator, Leag, had failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment when applying for an extension of the mining licence from 1 September this year.

Cottbus-based, Czech-owned Leag will be able to continue operating the Jaenschwalde units by supplying them from its other mines, but this will be possible for only a limited time, Leag said last week.

Environmental group DUH had filed an emergency motion with the administrative court of Cottbus, arguing that the licence extension granted to Leag by Brandenburg's office for mining, geology and raw materials (LBGR), was invalid because the LBGR had failed to conduct an environmental impact assessment when granting it.

The administrative court of Cottbus had called on the LBGR to complete the environmental assessment retroactively, which the LBGR said it would not be able to carry out by the end of this month.

The Cottbus court acknowledged that recommissioning a closed lignite mine could take up to several months.

Five units of the Jaenschwalde complex — units A-E — with a combined capacity of 2.33GW, continue to operate in the wholesale power market. The 465MW unit F moved out of the wholesale market and into the German lignite reserve on 1 October last year. Unit E, also with a capacity of 465MW, will join the reserve this October. Lignite reserve plants have to shut down permanently after four years in the scheme and are expected to run very little, if at all, during their time in reserve.

Until last week, Janeschwalde units A-E ran at a daily average of 1.7GW, which is just 100MW below average generation in January-August 2018.


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