RDK (Karlsruhe) power station

From Global Energy Monitor

RDK (Karlsruhe) power station, also known as the Rheinhafen power station, has 1,815 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity (1,462 MW coal-fired and 353 MW gas-fired) in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany.


The undated satellite below shows the power station in Karlsruhe.

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The Karlsruhe power station has had eight operating coal-fired units throughout its history:[1]

  • Units 1 & 2: 64 MW each
  • Units 3: 100 MW
  • Unit 4S: 353 MW
  • Units 5 & 6: 180 MW each
  • Unit 7: 550 MW
  • Unit 8: 912 MW

The first seven units were commissioned from 1955 to 1985, and unit 8 in 2014. Units 1 to 3 have been shut down since the 1980s; both oil and gas-fired units 5 and 6 are since 1993 in cold reserve, meaning they can start operating again after an interval. Unit 4S is a combined cycle natural gas-fired plant converted in 1998 with an output of 365 MW.[2] The coal-fired power plant unit 7 has been used for intermediate load and coal-fired unit 8 for baseload.[3]

The coal required to fire the power plant is delivered directly to the power plant from the Rhine port of Karlsruhe by ship from Rotterdam; EnBW estimated they would need around 1000 ships a year to transport the necessary amount of coal. The unit is cooled by water from the Rhine. Up to 220 MW of district heating can also be taken from the plant to supply heating to the Karlsruhe area. [4]

The Karlsruhe power station is known worldwide for its efficiency: in 2019, the unit demonstrated a net thermal efficiency of 47.5%, which was the highest of any coal plant in the world. According to Power Magazine, the coal plant only produces 740 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy produced.[5] The plant is also equipped with denitrification and desulfurization technology. The operators are interested in including a CO₂ separation plant (CCS) in the facility when implementation of the technology becomes possible.[6]

In 2019, citizens from environmental groups and coal opposition groups protested at the Karlsruhe power plant during the annual Ende Gelände climate justice rally. In the protest, an access road to the power plant was blocked.[7]

Unit 7 retirement plans

In October 2021, EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG announced that by mid-2022, it would register Block 7 for decommissioning. In other words, the planned decommissioning of the block would be reported to the Federal Network Agency and the responsible transmission system operator by summer 2022 at the latest. After examination by the transmission system operator, the Federal Network Agency will decide whether the power plant block can be shut down or whether it will fall under the grid reserve ordinance for a limited period of time due to system relevance.[8]

In May 2022, Unit 7 was officially slated for retirement by May 27, 2024. It was included among a total capacity of 1,015 MW to be shut down during Germany's 5th coal phase-out auction.[9]

Unit 8

In April 2008, Power in Europe listed the project status as being "tendering, proposed" with a notional commissioning date of 2011/2012. It also listed the installed capacity as being in the range of 890-912 megawatts with "400?" in brackets. The project was approved by the ENBW board in December 2006. The newsletter also noted that the company was also "actively investigating" a 400 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine plant on the same site. Both the projects are slated as replacement for nuclear power stations set to be retired.[10]

According to a November 2012 report by Deutsche Umweltshilfe, the project was under construction with expected completion in 2013.[11]

For construction, EnBW contracted several companies to build various facilities; the largest contract was given to Alstom (which is now part of General Electric [GE]).[5] Problems with delivery and manufacturing, as well as boiler issues, led to commissioning being delayed until 2014. In August 2013, during construction, there was a fire in the boiler which was quickly resolved but resulted in further delays.[12]

Unit 8 was commissioned in 2014 with a capacity of 910 MW.[3][1]

Financing for Unit 8

In January 2008, the European Investment Bank agreed to provide the project with US$735.67 million in loans.[13][14] In total, it cost EnBW Kraftwerke AG approximately 1.3 billion Euros between 2008 to 2014.[4]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG[15]
  • Parent company: nBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG[16]
  • Location: Karlsruhe, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • Coordinates: 49.013306, 8.305416 (exact)
  • Coal Type: Bituminous
  • Gross generating capacity (operating): 1815 MW
  • Source of Funding: Unit 8: US$735.67 million in debt from the European Investment Bank[13][14]

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Fossil fuel" EnBW, accessed December 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 Das Rheinhafen-Dampfkraftwerk Karlsruhe, ENBW
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Karlsruhe RDK 7 and 8 Power Plant Germany," GEO, accessed April 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Rheinhafen-Dampfkraftwerk Karlsruhe – Wikipedia". de.wikipedia.org (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 POWER (2019-08-01). "The World-Class Coal Power Efficiency of Rheinhafen-Dampfkraftwerk Block 8". POWER Magazine. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  6. "Rheinhafen steam power plant in Karlsruhe | EnBW". Rheinhafen steam power plant in Karlsruhe. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  7. Alamy Limited. "Karlsruhe, Germany. 02nd Feb, 2019. Coal opponents climb over a gate leading to the site of the Rheinhafen steam power plant during a protest by the "End Gelände" alliance". Alamy. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  8. "EnBW wird Kohle-Kraftwerksblock RDK 7 in Karlsruhe bis Mitte 2022 zur Stilllegung anmelden," EnBW, October 1, 2021
  9. "Germany's 5th coal phase-out auction picks 1 GW of bids," Renewables Now, May 23, 2022
  10. "PiE’s new power plant project tracker – April 2008", Power in Europe, Issue 523, April 7, 2008, page 21.
  11. "Projects of coal-fired power plants in Germany since 2007," Deutsche Umwelthilfe, November 2012
  12. "Hard coal block RDK8 - Project presentation | EnBW". Hard coal block RDK8 - Project presentation. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Power Plant Karlsruhe". www.eib.org. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Coal-Fired Plants Financed by International Public Investment Institutions Since 1994". Environmental Defense Fund. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  15. Kraftwerksliste, ID BNA0514 Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency), version from August 2019
  16. Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) 529900JSFZ4TS59HKD79 Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation, accessed January 2020
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Bundesnetzagentur - Kraftwerksliste

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