Niederaussem power station

From Global Energy Monitor

Niederaussem power station is a 2,913-megawatt (MW) lignite-fired power station in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, owned by RWE.

The power station was home to additional coal power capacity that is now retired. In addition, in 2012, RWE proposed the construction of a new 1,100 MW plant at the Niederaussem site, referred to as BOAplus, north of the previous site. In April 2019, the project was cancelled.


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 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 units were subcritical units commissioned between 1963 and 1974, and the ninth was a 1,012 MW ultra-supercritical unit commissioned in 2002.

Additional history

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.[1]


The first two units were retired in 2012, leaving 3,568 MW.[2][1]

As part of a compensation deal with the German government, RWE's head of finance said in November 2020 that it expected to close Niederaussem Unit D by the end of the year.[3] This was part of a scheme being enacted under German federal law to phase out coal by 2038. RWE was 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 by the end of 2022.[4]

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

Unit C was retired in 2021, leaving an estimated 2,913 MW of coal power.[6]

A January 2020 RWE press release stated the following in response to the German government releasing the “Federal/State Agreement on Coal Exit”:

"RWE will then shut down (...) two 600 MW units in 2022. This will mainly affect the Neurath and Niederaussem sites (...). The second step up to 2030 also envisages a further significant reduction in capacity for RWE. (...) At the end of 2029, RWE will also shut down another power plant unit with a capacity of 600 MW. The company's last 600 MW unit will be transferred to a safety reserve for four years from 1 January 2030. This means that from this date, RWE will only have the three youngest and most modern lignite-fired units in the 1,000 megawatt class (BoA 1, 2&3) producing electricity in the market. They will run until the end of 2038."[7]

Units E and F were originally slated for retirement in 2022. However, they are on a list of plants that will see their lives extended due to energy security concerns in light of the war in Ukraine.[8]

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[9].

2006 Fire

An incident in the power station Niederaussem occurred on June 9, 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. 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 & opposition

RWE considered the construction of a new 1,100 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.[10] In September 2012, Bergheim City Council decided to draw up a development plan and change the land use plan.[11] In November 2014, the Council approved land-use plan No. 261/Na and the 125th amendment of the land use plan.[12]

RWE was preparing the permitting procedure under German emission control law starting in 2015. On July 14, 2016, the company submitted the necessary documents to the district government of Cologne. At the same time, on July 22, it submitted an application for a water permit. The decision to start construction would only be made once all permits were obtained and the economic viability of the power plant was assured.[13]

It was proposed that the planned 1,100 MW unit would replace four older units of Niederaussem with a total capacity of 1,200 MW.[14]

In October 2016, it was reported the new unit would likely only lose money for the company if built.[15]

In September 2018, RWE said it was likely to cancel the plant, despite an ongoing approvals process.[16]

In November 2018, the Munster Higher Administrative Court declared the development plan of the city of Bergheim invalid, which was 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.[17]

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."[18] [19]

Plant Details (Units A-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 - Start date - Status:[1]
    • Unit A - 144 MW - 1963 - Retired 2012
    • Unit B - 152 MW - 1963 - Retired 2012
    • Unit C - 335 MW - 1965 - Retired 2021
    • Unit D - 320 MW - 1968 - Retired 2020
    • Unit E - 315 MW - 1970 - Mothballed; Projected retirement 2022
    • Unit F - 320 MW - 1971 - Mothballed; Projected retirement 2022
    • Unit G - 630 MW - 1974 - Operating; Projected retirement 2029
    • Unit H - 636 MW - 1974 - Operating; Projected retirement 2033
    • Unit K - 1,012 MW - 2002 - Operating; Projected retirement 2038
  • Type: Subcritical (Units C-H), Ultra-supercritical (Unit K)
  • Coal Type: Lignite
  • Coal Source: Domestic
  • Source of financing:

Proposed Expansion Details (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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Power from Niederaussem," RWE, date unknown
  2. "Niederaussem power plant," RWE, accessed December 2017
  3. "RWE expects lignite closure deal by year end," Montel News, November 12, 2020
  4. "RWE to close 2.8 GW of lignite by end of 2022," Montel News, January 16, 2020
  5. "RWE AG - Coal Phase-out Act: RWE Power takes first plant off grid – Unit D in Niederaussem," Electric Energy Online, January 11, 2021
  6. Three German reactors cease operation, World Nuclear News, January 4, 2022
  7. "RWE stretches to the limit by agreeing to coal phase-out proposal," RWE, January 16, 2020
  8. "RWE says could keep brown coal power plants open, EnBW, Steag rethink coal," Financial Post, June 20, 2022
  9. The "Dirty Thirty" report, World Wide Fund for Nature, 2007
  10. "Regionalrat: Weg für neues Kohle-Kraftwerk ist frei," Kölner Stadt, July 5, 2013
  11. "Stadtplanung," Kreisstadt Bergheim, accessed May 2018
  12. "BoAplus: RWE Power begrüßt Ratsbeschluss der Kreisstadt Bergheim zur Anpassung der Bauleitplanung," RWE, November 25, 2014
  13. "RWE treibt Kraftwerks-Neubau voran," RP Online, September 27, 2017
  14. "Braunkohlekraftwerk: RWE schafft Voraussetzungen," Kölnische, October 8, 2011
  15. "Germany’s last new coal plant," Energy Transition, October 3, 2016
  16. "1.1 GW lignite plant project to be cancelled – RWE official," Montel, September 11, 2018
  17. "OVG stoppt Bau von Kraftwerk Bergheim-Niederaußem," WDR, November 15, 2018
  18. "RWE cancels plans for BoAplus project at Niederaussem site: No more investments in new coal-fired power stations", RWE, Media Release, April 26, 2019
  19. "RWE cancels plans for new coal plants, including Niederaussem", Reuters, April 26, 2019

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