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Steag extends coal power plant operations, Uniper weighs Scholven C rethink

FILE PHOTO: Genreal view of electricity pylons and power lines leading from the Uniper coal power plant in Hanau

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's Steag said on Tuesday it plans to operate five units at four hard coal-fired power plants to help ensure available capacity for winter.

The plants, with a combined capacity of 2.49 gigawatts (GW), include Weiher 3 (655.6 MW) and Bexbach (726 MW).

They will leave grid reserve status and start market operations under a capacity provision law, Steag said on the website of power exchange EEX.

The move will take place by Nov. 1, a Steag spokesperson said in reply to an enquiry from Reuters.

Two plants, MKV and HKV at Voelklingen-Fenne, with a joint capacity of 390 MW and previously earmarked for closure on Oct. 31, will continue to operate in a one-block-at-a-time mode beyond that date, presumably until April 30, 2023, Steag said.

The 717 MW Bergkamen A plant will also continue to operate.

Additional capacity in the European wholesale power market will help offset sky-high prices amid concern about the availability of supply from Russia. [EL/DE]

Germany can need almost 80 gigawatts (GW) of generation at certain times to meet in mid-winter electricity demand.

Sector peer RWE on Monday said it is preparing to restart three brown coal-to-power production units, Neurath C and Niederaussem E and F, with a combined capacity of just under 900 MW. These burn domestically sourced coal.

Separately, Uniper which had brought back online the 875 MW Heyden 4 hard coal plant in August, said it was considering whether or not to move the 345 MW Scholven C plant into reserve status on Oct. 31.

A restart of three old oil-fired plants with a joint capacity of 1.2 GW - Irsching 3 and Ingolstadt 3 and 4 - is not planned, a spokesperson said.

Uniper has said that the Staudinger 5 (510 MW) and Scholven B (345 MW) plants will keep operating until May 2023 and end-June 2023, respectively. A related decree awaits an update by the government.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by XXX)