The Jänschwalde lignite-fired power plant belongs to the LEAG company Lausitz Energie Kraftwerke AG. LEAG is the fourth largest power plant operator in Germany. Other lignite-fired power plants belonging to the company are Schwarze Pumpe, Boxberg and Lippendorf Unit R. Every tenth kilowatt hour of electricity consumed in Germany is produced in these power plants.
Jänschwalde power plant is located about 15 kilometres north of the city of Cottbus. As early as 1976, the foundation stone for the lignite-fired power plant was laid in the immediate neighbourhood of the town of Peitz. Almost five years later, in 1981, one of the six 500 megawatts (MW) units of the power plant already went into continuous operations. In 1989 it was completed with an installed total capacity of 3,000 MW.
In the period from 1991 to 1996 all power plant units were refurbished with state-of-the-art environmental technology and thus prepared for an efficient continuation of their operations. This was followed by further comprehensive modernization programs, the latest one was a general overhaul of all the steam turbines completed in 2014. Thus the efficiency was increased and at the same time specific CO2 emissions were lowered.
Jänschwalde power plant is fuelled with run-of-mine lignite from the nearby Lusatian opencast mines. It belongs to the largest lignite-fired power plants in Europe. Some of the heat produced in the process of generating electricity is extracted and used for district heating at the site, and for the cities of Cottbus and Peitz.
Although Jänschwalde is a reliable “around the clock” supplier of electricity and heat, the power plant is also able to flexibly adapt its output. This is necessary to balance the supply of intermittent electricity from wind and sun which is preferentially fed into the German transmission grid (according to the Renewable Energies Act). Each of the six power plant units of Jänschwalde can be operated flexibly and rapidly within 180 MW to 500 MW. To further improve flexibility, dry lignite supplementary firing is being tested in a pilot project at Jänschwalde site.
Within the legal framework of the security stand-by mechanism for lignite-fired power plants Jänschwalde units E and F (500 MW each) will be capped from the grid in 2018 and 2019 and transferred into an on-demand-power reserve for four years. Afterwards both units are scheduled to be decommissioned.