January 9, 2019 / 9:05 AM / 6 months ago

Uniper wins contract to build gas-fired power plant in Germany

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Uniper is building a gas-fired power plant in Germany, the country’s first in a decade, to act as a “safety cushion” as energy grids face growing pressure to cope with the rise of intermittent, renewable sources.

The 300-megawatt (MW) plant will be built in the southern town of Irsching, where the group already operates a number of gas- and oil-fired power stations, and become operational on Oct. 1, 2022, Uniper said.

It would be Germany’s first newly built gas-fired power plant since Irsching 4, which entered service in 2011.

The new block will not serve the market, but will be available at short notice any time network stability is at risk, Uniper said.

“Their high flexibility makes gas power plants ideal for balancing out the increasing share of non-controllable electricity generated from wind and solar energy,” Uniper Chief Operating Officer Eckhardt Ruemmler said.

“Given the anticipated stable earnings it will generate, this project is a further step in implementing our strategy to significantly increase revenue that is not dependent on the wholesale market.”

Germany’s energy sector has been in turmoil since a plan to phase out nuclear power by 2022 coincided with a massive rise in renewables capacity, leaving grids to deal with the supply swings that came as a result.

Uniper, in which Finland’s Fortum owns a 47 percent stake, did not specify the financial impact of the agreement.

The contract was awarded by network operator TenneT, which, along with rivals, had previously called for bids for a total capacity of 1,200 MW to stabilize the grid when solar and wind energy sources fall short.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Arno Schuetze; Editing by Dale Hudson

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