RWE represents energy with a conscience: our conventional power plant portfolio with its modern, flexible power plants safeguards the security of the electricity supply. Using cutting-edge technologies, RWE has also enhanced its new coal-fired power plants to an efficiency level of 46 % – significantly above the current European average of approximately 36 %. Combined cycle power plants are even more efficient, using the fossil fuel natural gas. With downstream cogeneration, they can achieve efficiency levels of up to an incredible 80 %.
Over the long term, researchers are pursuing a vision that could become reality within the next decade: a climate-friendly coal-fired power plant with CO2 capture and storage. Technological advances have already enabled us to achieve a lot. However, European countries still need to work together to develop the legal and regulatory framework necessary for offering security for investments and promoting acceptance of technology. With this goal in mind, some innovations are already approaching market-readiness.
Investments in optimised plant engineering pay off
The importance of innovation and technology in the entire power plant portfolio is highlighted in particular by the interrelationship of conventional and renewable energy sources within the energy mix. One practical example: the transmission system operator Amprion has to intervene between 50 to 100 times a year in the operation of the lignite-fired power plants in the coalfields in order to stabilise the electricity grid. This is where our billion-euro investments in the highly flexible lignite-fired power plants with optimised equipment technology (BoAs) and in new control technology and innovative materials really pay off. RWE is able to decrease the output of the entire fleet in the coalfields from a good 10,000 MW to around 5,000 MW within 30 minutes. This corresponds to the speed of a modern gas-fired power plant.