The 190MW KIEL coastal power plant is located on the eastern shore of the Kieler Förde inlet in northern Germany. Credit: Stadtwerke Kiel.
The KIEL coastal CHP plant was officially inaugurated in January 2020. Credit: Stadtwerke Kiel.
Excess district heating generated by the plant is stored in a 60m-tall heat storage unit. Credit: Stadtwerke Kiel.

German municipal utility Stadtwerke Kiel built one of Europe’s most modern gas engine heating power plants on the eastern shore of the Kieler Förde inlet in northern Germany.

Named KIEL (Kiel’s intelligent energy solution), the 190MW gas-fired power plant uses 20 highly efficient gas engines for power generation.

With a thermal output of 192MW, the power plant supplies district heating for the city of Kiel. A feasibility study for the plant was completed in 2012, and the construction license was granted on 19 September 2016.

The power plant secured approval from the board of Stadtwerke Kiel in November 2016. Built at a cost of €290m ($331.8m), the power plant was commissioned in November 2019 and officially inaugurated in January the following year.

KIEL coastal power plant make-up

The KIEL power plant replaced a pre-existing coal-fired power plant operating since 1970 and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 70%.

It is comprised of a gas-fired power plant, electrode boiler and heat storage unit. Energised with Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engines, the plant can reach a nominal output of 190MW from a complete standstill in less than five minutes.

Hot water generated in the electrode boiler can be stored in the heat storage unit, which holds up to 42,000m³ of water. Approximately 30,000m³ constitutes the useful volume, while the remaining 12,000m³ will be press hot water. The stored hot water ensures the supply of district heating for more than 70,000 consumers for up to eight hours.

The combined heat and power (CHP) generation system is claimed to have an efficiency of 45% for both thermal and electric, as well as an overall primary energy conversion efficiency exceeding 90%.

KIEL power plant engine

The Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engines in the KIEL power plant have an electrical generation capacity of 9.5MW each. The engines are housed in four blocks and can be independently controlled.

Designed for multiple starts each day, the engines are a high-quality standardised generator-set module, comprising a generator, engine and turbocharger.

The power unit of the engine ensures low-maintenance downtime, as the parts of the unit can be exchanged with a single assembly.

KIEL coastal power plant development

Construction of the Kiel power plant was undertaken in two phases. The first phase included engineering and erection work for the pump hall, which connected the electrode boiler and thermal storage to the district heating network.

Works for the engine hall walls were started in May 2017. The east and west halls, which accommodate the gas engines, are each 100m long, 30m wide and 20m tall.

An operating permit for the entire system, including the gas engines, was also obtained during the first phase. The second phase included the installation of the gas engines in the engine halls.

Gas supply and electricity distribution

The gas supply is ensured from the public network, while the existing gas caverns near the plant serve as a buffer.

The electrical energy generated by the coastal power plant is fed into the Kiel 110kV power supply, with the excess energy redirected to the upstream mains.

District heating generated by the plant is either fed into the public district heating network of Kiel or temporarily stored in the 60m-high heat storage unit for future use.

Financing for the KIEL power plant

Funding for the power plant was provided under the Combined Heat and Power Generation Act (KWKG), which supports highly efficient CHP plants.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) provided a €105m ($120m) loan for the construction of the Kiel power plant. The loan was part of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), the core of the investment programme for Europe.

A consortium of banks also provided further financing for the power plant, including Berliner Sparkasse, Landesbank Berlin, Commerzbank, ING Bank, ING-DiBa, Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale, SEB and Schleswig-Holstein.

Contractors involved

Kraftanlagen München (KAM) was awarded the general construction contract for the power plant.

General Electric (GE) supplied the Jenbacher gas engines for the plant. Advent International acquired GE’s Distributed Power business, which manufactures Jenbacher and Waukesha engines, in November 2018 and rebranded it as INNIO.

TÜV NORD, a technical services provider based in Germany, provided quality monitoring and assurance services to Stadtwerke Kiel for the project.

UK-based law firm Allen & Overy advised the developer on official plan approval procedures, environmental permit procedures, and energy supply, usage and management agreements for the project.