Niederaussem power station

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Niederaussem power station is a 3,248-megawatt (MW) lignite-fired power station in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, owned by RWE.

In 2012 RWE proposed the construction of a new 1100 MW plant at the Niederaussem site, referred to as BOAplus, north of the previous site. In April 2019 the project was cancelled. (The new plant was intended to replace four older units with a combined capacity of 1100 MW.)


The undated satellite below shows the plant in the Bergheim Niederaussem/Rhein-Erft-Kreis circle. The Niederaussem power plant is located on the terrain of the county town of Bergheim (RheinErft county), some 15 km northwest of Cologne.

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The power station was planned in the 1960s as a 900-MW plant called Fortuna IV, following on from the now closed Fortuna I, II and III plants which produced electricity from 1912 until 1988. The project name was later changed to Niederaussem. The plant consisted of nine units totaling approximately 3,900 MW. The first eight are subcritical units commissioned between 1963 and 1974, and the ninth is a 1,012 MW ultra-supercritical unit commissioned in 2002. The first two units were retired in 2012, leaving 3568 MW.[1][2]

As part of a compensation deal with the German government, RWE's head of finance said in November 2020 that it expects to close Niederaussem Unit D by the end of the year.[3] This is part of a scheme being enacted under German federal law to phase out coal by 2038. RWE is planning to close eight units with a total capacity of 2,820 MW in the first wave of the scheme's lignite plant closures up to the end of 2022.[4]

Unit D was decommissioned on December 31, 2020, leaving 3,248 MW of coal power.[5]


The power station went on stream with 150-MW units in 1963 as Werk IV of the near-by Fortuna power plant, which was demolished in 1988. By 1974, the power plant had been expanded to a total gross electric capacity of 2,700 MW. In the mid-1980s/early 1990s, refurbishing work was carried out to reduce emissions. The power plant's turbines have been part-renewed since 1994.[2]


The plant consists units A-I. Below are their gross capacity and the year commissioned:[2]

  • A - 144 MW - 1963 - Retired 2012
  • B - 152 MW - 1963 - Retired 2012
  • C - 335 MW - 1965
  • D - 320 MW - 1968 - Retired 2020
  • E - 315 MW - 1970
  • F - 320 MW - 1971
  • G - 630 MW - 1974
  • H - 636 MW - 1974
  • I - 1,012 MW - 2003

CO2 emissions

According to the study Dirty Thirty, issued in May 2007 by the World Wide Fund for Nature, Niederaussem Power Station is the third-worst power station in Europe in terms of the relation of energy efficiency to CO2 emissions[6].

2006 Fire

An incident in the power station Niederaussem occurred on 9 June 2006. At 1:15 a fire caught hold in block H of the coaling station. The fire spread to two further coaling station blocks. Later the flames seized nearly the entire area of the "old power station", and a large, black smoke cloud ascended, which spread many kilometres to the north-west. The power station's own fire brigade could not control the fire and sounded the alarm. About 300 rescue forces from the entire Land responded. The damage to property went into the two digit million-range.[citation needed] Even by the late evening of the next day the fire was not completely extinguished. The spread of the fire was contained by recently developed fire precautions in the other sectors of the power station so that only the coaling station was affected.

Proposed unit L

RWE considered the construction of a new 1100 MW plant at the Niederaussem site, north of the previous site. In April 2019 the project was cancelled.

In October 2011 the company applied for the necessary amendment of the regional plan with the district government of Cologne. In July 2013 the regional council of the district government approved the amendment.[7] In September 2012, Bergheim City Council decided to draw up a development plan and change the land use plan.[8] In November 2014, the Council approved land-use plan No. 261/Na and the 125th amendment of the land use plan.[9]

RWE has been preparing the permitting procedure under German emission control law since June 2015. On July 14, 2016, the company submitted the necessary documents to the district government of Cologne. At the same time, on 22 July, it submitted an application for a water permit. The decision to start construction will only be made once all permits have been obtained and the economic viability of the power plant has been assured.[10]

It was proposed that the planned 1100 MW unit would replace four older units of Niederaussem with a total capacity of 1200 MW.[11]

In October 2016 it was reported the new unit would likely only lose money for the company if built.[12]

In September 2018 RWE said it was likely to cancel the plant, despite an ongoing approvals process.[13]

In November 2018, the Munster Higher Administrative Court declared the development plan of the city of Bergheim invalid, which is a prerequisite for the construction of the power plant. The court ruled in favour of local residents who had claimed that the construction of the power plant violated the state development plan and the climate protection law of North Rhine-Westphalia.[14]

In April 2019 RWE announced, after the coal exit commission recommended all coal plants be phased out by 2038, that it had cancelled the project. The company stated that the project's "implementation was subject to market conditions, which did not allow for the project to be realised in the last years." The company also stated that "in the future, RWE will focus on electricity generation from renewable energy sources. Consequently, the company will no longer invest in new built coal-fired power stations."[15] [16]

Plant Details of units C-K

  • Sponsor: RWE Power AG
  • Parent company: RWE AG
  • Developer:
  • Location: Bergheim, Rhein-Erft-Kreis, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • Coordinates: 50.996883, 6.667549 (exact)
  • Status: Operating
  • Capacity: 3,248 MW
  • Start date: 1965-1974 (Unit C-H), 2002 (Unit K)
  • Type: Subcritical (Units C-H), Ultra-supercritical (Unit K)
  • Coal Type: Lignite
  • Coal Source: Domestic
  • Source of financing:

Project Details of unit L

  • Sponsor: RWE Power AG
  • Parent company: RWE AG
  • Developer:
  • Location: Bergheim, Rhein-Erft-Kreis, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • Coordinates: 50.996883, 6.667549 (exact)
  • Status: cancelled
  • Capacity: 1,100 MW
  • Start date:
  • Type: Ultra-supercritical
  • Coal Type: Lignite
  • Coal Source: Domestic
  • Source of financing:



  1. Niederaussem power plant, RWE, accessed Dec 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Power from Niederaussem," RWE, date unknown
  3. Nathan Witkop, RWE expects lignite closure deal by year end, Montel News, Nov. 12, 2020
  4. Nora Kamprath Buli, RWE to close 2.8 GW of lignite by end of 2022, Montel News, Jan. 16, 2020
  5. "RWE AG - Coal Phase-out Act: RWE Power takes first plant off grid – Unit D in Niederaussem". Electric Energy Online. 2021-01-11. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  6. The Dirty Thirty report, World Wide Fund for Nature, 2007
  7. "Regionalrat: Weg für neues Kohle-Kraftwerk ist frei," Kölner Stadt, July 5, 2013
  8. "Stadtplanung," Kreisstadt Bergheim, accessed May 2018
  9. "BoAplus: RWE Power begrüßt Ratsbeschluss der Kreisstadt Bergheim zur Anpassung der Bauleitplanung," RWE, Nov 25, 2014
  10. "RWE treibt Kraftwerks-Neubau voran," RP Online, Sep 27, 2017
  11. "Braunkohlekraftwerk: RWE schafft Voraussetzungen," Kölnische, Oct 8, 2011
  12. "Germany’s last new coal plant," Energy Transition, Oct 3, 2016
  13. "1.1 GW lignite plant project to be cancelled – RWE official," Montel, Sep 11, 2018
  14. "OVG stoppt Bau von Kraftwerk Bergheim-Niederaußem," WDR, Nov 15, 2018
  15. RWE,"RWE cancels plans for BoAplus project at Niederaussem site: No more investments in new coal-fired power stations", Media Release, April 26, 2019.
  16. Vera Eckert, "RWE cancels plans for new coal plants, including Niederaussem", Reuters, April 26, 2019.

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