Russians throttle gas: Austria reactivates decommissioned coal-fired power plant

The Russians are throttling gas
Austria will reactivate the decommissioned coal-fired power plant

Due to climate protection, Austria closed the last coal-fired power plant in the country in 2020. But as Gazprom turns the gas tap, the Mellach plant will be returned to the grid, according to the Federal Chancellor. But this is not a quick fix.

In the face of limited Russian gas supplies, Austria has decided to reactivate the coal-fired power plant, which has been shut down. The Federal Chancellery in Vienna has announced that the authorities and Austria’s largest electricity producer, the Verbund Group, are working to equip the power plant in Mellach, southern Austria, with coal re-operation. The primary goal is to secure Austrian gas supplies, said Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

The decision was made by a conservative-green government led by Nehammer after negotiations by the crisis cabinet on cut gas supplies from Russia. Russia’s energy company Gazprom has previously announced that it will reduce its gas supplies to Austria – as it has done before with Germany and Italy, among others. In mid-June, gas storage capacity in Austria was 39 percent. For comparison: In Germany, the Federal Network Agency recently reported 57 percent.

The Mellach power plant, located near Graz in Styria, was the last coal-fired power plant in Austria to be shut down in the spring of 2020. The shutdown was part of Austria’s climate protection strategy to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energies. Thanks to the reactivation that has now been decided, coal can be produced again in the event of an emergency in Mellach. According to the APA news agency, the conversion will take several months.

Chancellor Nehammer explained that Austria was trying to replace the missing Russian gas with other sources or suppliers. In Germany, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck also announced the increased use of coal-fired power plants. This should reduce gas consumption in Germany and thus support the filling of storage facilities. The minister described the increased use of coal as “bitter”, but “almost necessary in this situation”.

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