Utilities Plan $79 Billion of Power Plants in Germany, BDEW Says

Utilities and investors plan to spend 60 billion euros ($79 billion) to build and modernize power plants in Germany as the country closes its nuclear reactors over the coming decade, the BDEW utility lobby said.

The 84 projects, of which 69 are at least in the permitting stages and scheduled to start operating by 2020, have a combined capacity of 42,056 megawatts, the BDEW said in an e-mailed statement today. They include 23 sea-based wind farms, 29 gas-fired stations, 17 coal generators and 10 hydro-power pump stations, it said.

While the investments by companies including EON AG, RWE AG and Iberdrola SA are positive for Germany’s future energy mix, “this shouldn’t hide the fact that there are obstacles not just for renewable power but also coal and gas-to-power projects,” Hildegard Mueller, the head of the BDEW, said in the statement.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, aims by 2022 to replace nuclear reactors that supplied about a fifth of its electricity with renewables such as solar and wind as well as a fresh fleet of fossil fuel-fired plants. Chancellor Merkel shuttered the country’s oldest reactors last year after the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

While authorities permitted several of the 29 gas generators in planning, companies haven’t yet committed to the investments amid fears that the generators won’t make money because of fewer operating hours, Mueller said. Renewables get priority access to the grid in Germany, wiping out earnings at gas stations.

Utilities in Germany were losing 12.26 euros a megawatt-hour as of 12:10 p.m. Berlin time, based on so-called clean-dark spreads for next month that take account of gas, power and emissions prices, compared with a profit of 20.95 euros in October 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. U.K. generators earned 1.82 pounds ($2.93) a megawatt-hour, down from a profit of 7.02 pounds in October.

Politicians “must tackle” the future design of the power market to by 2015 create conditions facilitating investments in new generators by 2020, Mueller said.