German coal-fired power plant operator LEAG to invest 10 billion euros in green energy

LEAG is shifting to wind and solar power, energy storage and sustainable mobility as Germany aims to phase out coal by 2038 or possibly even by the end of the decade. The company’s massive investment plan for the period up to 2030 amounts to more than 10 billion euros.

The energy crisis has prompted Germany to bring as many coal-fired power plants back into service as possible in the short term, but fossil fuel companies are still racing to meet the country’s 2038 deadline for a coal phase-out. LEAG, eastern Germany’s largest energy supplier, has presented a green transition plan alongside a colossal portfolio of projects.

According to its website, the company only has two solar parks of 14.5 MW in total and photovoltaic capacity on the roofs. But it has ambitions to commission 7 GW of solar and wind power plants by 2030 as well as batteries, thermal storage, green hydrogen production and sustainable mobility solutions.

LEAG aims to commission 7 GW of solar and wind power plants by 2030, as well as batteries, thermal storage, green hydrogen production and sustainable mobility solutions

Fossil fuel producers across the continent are rebranding and investing to retain their positions in the energy market, in the face of hundreds of new competitors deploying new technologies. They are accelerating efforts to obtain grants and cheap loans in time through the mechanisms of the European Union.

Lusatia considered Germany’s largest renewable energy center

LEAG said its plan was worth more than 10 billion euros and relied on its own funds, but did not rule out the possibility of external funding. He revealed that he was also counting on 1.75 billion euros in compensation to close his coal-fired power stations before the end of their lifespan.

The utility said it would set up Germany’s largest renewable energy center by 2030 in its home region of Lusatia. CEO Thorsten Kramer said his pioneering GigawattFactory project would provide a sustainable and affordable energy supply independent of imports.

Few social and environmental problems related to the use of coal pits

LEAG, owned by Czech companies EPH and PPF Investments, intends to install solar and wind power plants at the sites of its coal mining operations. Kramer pointed out that Germany was suffering from the worst energy crisis in its history and underlined the pressure exerted on citizens and businesses by high gas and electricity prices, adding that the ongoing projects were an appropriate response. .

CEO Thorsten Kramer said the company is getting “very positive signals” from city, state and federal officials.

There are 33,000 hectares available on former surface mines, with few issues that would impact the environment and residents, LEAG said. In addition, the sites are near high voltage power lines.

The utility stressed that the German government would need to prioritize these efforts over depleted mines for the plan to work. Kramer said LEAG is getting “very positive signals” from city, state and federal authorities. The CEO estimated that the company could build 1 GW of solar power capacity by 2026 and added that it was considering the construction of a solar panel factory.

From virtual power plants to floatovoltaic

The utility said it has already advanced with construction procedures for the 400 MW Bohrau solar power plant and the 102 MW Forst-Briesnig 2 wind farm on the recultivated site of its Jänschwalde mine. Another solar park, with a capacity of 31 MW, is planned at the Jänschwalde ash dump. Its commissioning is scheduled for next year or in 2024.

LEAG is working on projects for virtual power plants, electric vehicle charging stations and green hydrogen production facilities that would power public transport systems. There is a gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in the pipeline that could switch to hydrogen. The installation will be combined with a heat storage and an electrolyser unit.

Another flagship project concerns a floating solar power plant at the artificial lake of Cottbuser Ostsee, which will be located in a former open pit mine. The planned 21 MW plant would currently be the largest in Germany.

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James R. Rhodes