Dr. Karlheinz Rabenschlag, Sterr-Kölln & Partner, and Doreen Pimpl, CEO of greenmatch, show how a repowering project works, which legal and juridical framework conditions have to be considered and offer assistance for the profitability calculation of repowering projects. The follow-up webinar expands on the findings from the roundtable on repowering held on 4 May 2021.
The german EEG subsidy supports wind turbines for 20 years after commissioning with a fixed payment. When the EEG subsidy expires, many operators are faced with the question of what to do with their power plants. "Decommissioning does not make sense for climate policy and economic reasons," says Rabenschlag. "After all, we have plants that are running and generating electricity." The energy law expert suggests repowering existing plants. Repowering means replacing existing plants with more efficient plant technology. This makes it possible to produce energy more efficiently and generate higher yields.
Repowering as a bridge solution
However, continued operation in the sense of bridging the gap until repowering is possible is also an alternative, because despite expired EEG subsidies, operators of old plants still have the right to priority grid connection and power purchase. In the case of continued operation, questions of licensing law must be clarified, such as proof of safe plant operation, and the continuation of existing contracts - utilisation, maintenance and operating contracts - must be examined or renegotiated.
From an existing to a new power plant
Repowering projects are to be planned as new projects, whereby the old plant must be included as a weighty aspect in the analysis and implementation: What is the condition of the old plant, have there been additions over the years; are there new findings on species and landscape protection or what are the minimum distances to be observed?
The stakeholder structure is also a central component of repowering. The obligations of the individual parties are laid down in a cooperation or repowering agreement. Another important legal basis is the concession agreement, which should be redrafted instead of taking over the old one. Rabenschlag concludes: "Practice shows that the more concretely the contracting parties conclude a repowering agreement, the easier it is to implement the entire project later on. Nevertheless, repowering projects are extremely complex in many cases and experience shows that it takes around five years from analysis to commissioning.
Profitability calculation for repowering
The decision as to whether repowering or continued operation of a power plant is preferable is preceded by a profitability calculation. "We recommend approaching each project with the same calculation model. This is not just efficient, but also comparability with one's other projects is always given," says Doreen Pimpl, who shows in detail how different scenarios can be simulated and compared with the greenmatch tool. She also emphasises the importance of critically questioning one's own assumptions on which the calculation model is based: "The modelling of the projects always stands and falls with one's own assumptions." Small shifts in the parameters, such as the development of the electricity price or the expected investments, can have a massive impact on the yield calculation and thus also on the decision for continued operation or repowering. Therefore, stress tests in the form of simulations should also be an integral part of the profitability calculation of repowering projects.
You can find the recording of the webinar from 17 June here (German only):
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