According to the program, 2,500 MW of the currently operated 2,800 MW hydro power capacity are planned to stay in operation. The measures of the program are to be implemented by the end of 2019 and include a significant reduction in the number of jobs.
“Due to the adverse price development on the German electricity market and the regulatory framework for existing storage facilities, Vattenfall’s pumped storage power plants have been under considerable economic pressure for years. The measures that are now being introduced are a major challenge for all stakeholders, but they have become the only realistic chance to keep most of our German pumped storage plants in long-term operation,” says Torbjörn Wahlborg, Head of Business Area Generation at Vattenfall.
A number of actions
The restructuring program, which is the result of a thorough analysis started in the autumn 2016, essentially includes the following:
- Optimization of plant operation
- So called transition operational mode, or “mothballing”, of single plants
- Restructuring with focus on unconditional core competences in all areas
- Further reduction of the planned investment volume and all other cost items
According to current plans, the number of full-time employees could be reduced by up to 60 percent by the end of 2019. Today 420 people are employed. Vattenfall will start talks with the works councils to which extent the individual plant locations will be affected and to discuss socially acceptable solutions for the employees.
The optimization of the operation in the pumped storage plants of Goldisthal, Hohenwarte II, Markersbach and Wendefurth, in combination with other measures, aim at keeping approximately 2,500 MW of the currently operated 2,800 MW capacity in operation. The power plant of Niederwartha is already in a transitional operation mode and the plant in Geesthacht will soon be transferred into transitional operation mode, which means that the plant is kept in an operable state, but is not always ready for operation.
Several advantages with pumped storage plants
Since 2011, Vattenfall has invested around 60 MEUR in the modernization and upgrading of its German pumped storage plants to make them an effective part of the German energy transition.
Pumped storage plants are currently the only large-scale generation facilities with storage capacity for excess electricity from renewable energy sources. They thereby serve as a guarantee for the electricity network stability and are also one of few generation systems that are capable of a ‘black start’, which means that they can generate electricity without external help in the event of extensive power failures, thus rebuilding a regulated power supply in the country.