Niederaussem Power Station

Niederaussem Power Station

Power Station Niederaussem in 2011
Location of Niederaussem Power Station in Germany
Country Germany
Location Bergheim
Coordinates 50°59′44″N 06°40′09″E / 50.99556°N 6.66917°E / 50.99556; 6.66917Coordinates: 50°59′44″N 06°40′09″E / 50.99556°N 6.66917°E / 50.99556; 6.66917
Commission date 1965
Owner(s) RWE Power
Thermal power station
Primary fuel Lignite
Power generation
Units operational 9
Nameplate capacity 3,864 MW
power station

Niederaussem Power Station is a lignite-fired power station in the Bergheim Niederaussem/Rhein Erft circle, owned by RWE. It consists of nine units, which were built between 1963 and 2003. It is the second-largest brown coal power plant in operation in Germany, with total output capacity of 3,864 MW and a net capacity of 3,627 MW. According to the study Dirty Thirty, issued in May 2007 by the WWF, Niederaussem Power Station is the third-worst power station in Europe in terms of the relation of energy efficiency to CO2 emissions.[1]


Initial construction

The plume clouds from the cooling towers break through the cloud layer.

In the autumn of 1960 the construction work for the blocks A and B (150 MW) began. The location was selected because of the possibility of an extension. The supply of brown coal was ensured by seams on a north-south course ("Garzweiler"). Before blocks A and B first produced power, the construction work for the first 300 megawatt power station block location in Niederaussem began. That block went on-line in the summer 1965. Between 1968 and 1971 three further power plants with improved technology were developed. With the building of the two 600 MW plants a large jump forward occurred. These plants were added to the grid in 1974. At that time the plants at Niederaussem produced a total of 2,700 megawatts.


In the middle of the 1990s the output was again increased. In order to reach the limit values of the new environmental protection regulations, in 1986 the work for a flue gas desulphurating plant began. That work was completed in 1988. The flue gases are fed into scrubbers and cleaned by a lime water mixture. The cleaned and cooled exhaust gases are then warmed up to 75 °C (167 °F) again and carried by the chimneys to the outside air. During the flue gas purification, gypsum from the lime water mixture, which is processed beside the power station in Auenheim by the company Pro mineral, is produced.

1997 to present

With the building of the block brown coal power station with optimized equipment technology (BoA) a new chapter at the power station began; between 1997 and 2002 it was the most modern brown coal power station block of the world with a gross achievement of 1,012 megawatts (950 MW net) developed with a far higher efficiency (43%) than the other plants (as low as 31%). RWE invested 1,200 million into the project. Beside the new power station block, whose building has a height of 172 metres (one of the tallest industrial buildings in the world), the second-largest cooling tower in the world (200 metres), which serves also as the chimney of this unit, had already been built. By these developments Niederaussem became one of the largest and most modern coal-fired power stations in the world. The official opening of the new block took place in summer 2002. In the presence of Wolfgang Clement, the then North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister, and Gerhard Schroeder, the then Federal Chancellor, the new power station went on to the grid.

Since 21 July 2006 RWE has spent €40 million building a fluidized bed drying unit with waste heat technology (WTA) as a pilot project for the drying process of the raw brown coal. In addition the free waste heat of the power station is used. It is hoped that in the next few decades the overall efficiency of electricity production by brown coal can be increased to 50%.

2006 fire

An incident in the power station Niederaussem occurred on 9 June 2006. At 1:15 a fire caught hold in block H of the coaling station. The fire spread to two further coaling station blocks. Later the flames seized nearly the entire area of the "old power station", and a large, black smoke cloud ascended, which spread many kilometres to the north-west. The power station's own fire brigade could not control the fire and sounded the alarm. About 300 rescue forces from the entire Land responded. The damage to property went into the two digit million-range. Even by the late evening of the next day the fire was not completely extinguished. The spread of the fire was contained by recently developed fire precautions in the other sectors of the power station so that only the coaling station was affected.


  1. "The Dirty Thirty report" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-01.


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