|Power plant location||Bergheim, North Rhine-Westphalia|
|Power plant type||Large-scale lignite-fired power plant with 7 units|
|Electrical output (gross)
|Number of units
4 units C-F (300MW)
2 units G+E (600MW)
1 unit K (1.000MW)
Facts and figures
A power plant with tradition and a future
The locality of Niederaussem has been closely associated with electricity production since 1963. The power plant still supplies millions of people reliably with electricity to this day – and it sets new standards in developing innovative technologies for climate-friendly power generation.
A living piece of history
In 1963, Rheinisch-Westfälische Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), predecessor of RWE Power AG, commissioned the first two units. With a generation capacity of 150 megawatts, they represented state-of-the-art technology at the time; in 1955, units of the same dimension went on stream in Frimmersdorf and Weisweiler. With the increasing demand for electricity, the capacity of new units became bigger and bigger. In 1965, RWE commissioned the first 300-MW unit, and in 1974 the first one with an output of 600 MW, at the Niederaussem site. In 2003, a new record in power plant technology was achieved, when Block K was built with a gross output of 1,000 MW. Since the boiler houses also had to become higher with the increasing unit sizes, the history of technology is reflected in the skyline of the Niederaussem power plant, with building height increasing from left to right.
Reducing emissions – boosting efficiency
The latest addition to the site is unit K, aka "Konrad" or "BoA1". "BoA" is the German acronym for lignite-fired power station with optimised plant engineering. Many improvements at different stages of the production process ensure particularly efficient and thus more environmentally friendly power generation. The unit burns approximately 850 tonnes of coal per hour, creating 2,500 tonnes of steam. The power plant unit's turbine has a capacity of just above 1,000 megawatts (MW). This is sufficient to supply electricity to a city the size of Cologne, with one million inhabitants in 265,000 households plus industry. Efficiency of the unit is over 43 per cent, a world record for lignite-fired power plants. This reduces lignite use per generated kilowatt hour and thus CO2 and other emissions.
Units E and F in lignite reserve
The two 300-MW units E and F were transferred to lignite reserve for four years on 1 October 2018. At the end of the four years they will be decommissioned for good. Until then, the systems will be maintained to such a standard that they can be ready to generate power within 10 days in cases of emergencies on the German power grid. Together, the two units produced a total of 200 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to supply the one million inhabitants of Cologne with electricity for 100 years. Lignite reserve is part of RWE Power's schedule for consistently reducing CO2 emissions.
BoA1 is the focal point of RWE Power's Innovation Centre. There, the company operates a number of research plants. Examples include our CO2 flue gas scrubbing pilot system and a facility for pre-drying lignite. At a synthesis testing station the RWE scientists turn lignite into basic materials for the chemical and petrochemical industries at a laboratory scale.