news / 2013-09-09

Power plants become partners of renewables

In Neurath, North Rhine-Westphalia, as elsewhere, wind turbines and fossil-fired power plants now stand alongside each other. The power plant technology must be adapted to compensate the fluctuating feeding from renewable energy sources, turning both technologies into partners. Source: RWE

In Germany and across the world, the expansion of renewable energy is moving forward, while the installation of high-capacity electricity storage facilities is lagging behind. For the transition period, the aim is to use power plants to meet important grid control requirements in the short term. In this way, steam power plants are becoming partners of renewables.


Existing power plants are however so far not designed for flexible operation to compensate the fluctuating feed-in from renewables. The steam generation plants and turbines are optimised for maximum output in basic and medium-load operating mode. During partial load operation, both efficiency of the plant and the individual component materials suffer. In many power plants, stability is not guaranteed with fast operation. Existing coal-fired power plants must be refurbished to enable them to meet the new demands. The advantage of these upgrade measures for existing power plants is that they can be implemented at short notice. Different technical options will be analysed in the “Partner-Dampfkraftwerk” research project.

In the "Partner-Dampfkraftwerke" research project, power plant operators are collaborating with scientists to make existing plants more flexible. Source: VGB PowerTech

The power plant operators involved record the new requirements in a specifications document. BET, consultants for the energy and water industries, are supporting the project by studying different energy market scenarios using a European electricity market model with high shares of renewable energy sources. The University of Duisburg-Essen is working with the power plant operators to model calculations and dynamic simulations of the overall power plant during flexible operation. The results enable the manufacturers to identify and improve critical components and processes at the power plant. In addition, studies are being analysed on the different options for incorporating thermal storage facilities into the power plant process. The project is designed to run until February 2015.

Project participants

Project management

VGB PowerTech e.V., Essen

Study of energy market scenarios

BET – Büro für Energiewirtschaft und technische Planung GmbH, Aachen

Integration of storage facilities into the power plant process

DLR – Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Stuttgart

Power plant development

E.ON New Build & Technology GmbH, Gelsenkirchen

Development of the steam generators

Hitachi Power Europe GmbH, Duisburg

Thermodynamic calculations

Lehrstuhl für Umweltverfahrens- und Anlagentechnik (LUAT) der Universität Duisburg-Essen, Essen

Power plant technology network

Rhein Ruhr Power e.V.

Power plant development

RWE Power AG, Essen

Development of the steam turbines

Siemens AG Energy Sector, Mülheim an der Ruhr

Power plant development

STEAG Energy Services GmbH, Essen

Power plant development

Vattenfall Europe Generation AG, Cottbus