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Rheinwerk Neuss: "Hoping for progress"

The continued operation of Germany's largest aluminum smelter, Hydro's Rheinwerk in Neuss, is still under acute threat.

"We now urgently need close cooperation with politicians and the electricity industry in order to do justice to the special features of the energy-intensive industry, as has long been the norm in Italy, France and Spain," said Irmtraud Pawlik, spokeswoman for the management Hydro Aluminum Deutschland GmbH.

What Hydro cannot offer are offers from the energy sector. "A few years ago, oil and gas from Norway were interesting for energy companies as the basis for possible exchange transactions, but since October 2007 this division has no longer belonged to us," said Pawlik.

"We are a pure aluminum group. Our energy department operates 17 hydropower plants with around 9 terawatt hours (TWh) of production, which, however, cannot meet the needs of our Norwegian companies with around 16 TWh. So we have to buy electricity here and there, ”says the Hydro Managing Director.

Emergency aid for the power grid

What Hydro has to offer with its German smelter is not only a major customer that saves utilities from having to manage customers for hundreds of thousands of private users, but in particular a kind of balancing power plant to switch on and off, depending on the needs of the German power grid.

Pawlik: “We can disconnect from the grid within seconds for several hours if there is a lack of wind and solar power, for example - an almost always ready on and off button with which you can switch on and off the whole of Düsseldorf, including industry. “For this specific offer to make stressed electricity grids more flexible, Hydro hopes that this extraordinary option will be adequately taken into account by electricity partners.

Relief of indirect CO2 costs

Politically, it is about the EU's suggestion from 2013 to relieve energy-intensive companies of the indirect CO2 certificate costs priced in via the electricity bill. "Italy, France and Spain have had their corresponding special tariffs for years, these tariffs have only recently been extended," says Irmtraud Pawlik.

It is to be welcomed that the Federal Ministry of Economics wants to end this discrimination against German smelters at short notice. "Because up to now we have paid the electricity suppliers more than 30 million euros a year for these indirect CO2 price shares alone, and this completely knocks our hut down in the acute global economic crisis," says the Hydro Manager. & Nbsp;

For the production years 2006 to 2009, the cost burden of priced CO2 certificates is even around 250 billion euros.

Hydro welcomes RWE's openness

Pawlik continued: "We would appreciate it if RWE builds on our good cooperation of previous decades and we together now quickly develop the sketches for reference models that were previously submitted by both sides into a concrete contract template."

Hydro will publish its 2008 financial results on February 19 and has reported several times how its operations are facing the Great Depression.

The shutdown of 30,000 tons of annual capacity in the Rheinwerk Neuss was completed by the end of January. Then Hydro in Neuss, one of the most technologically efficient and cleanest aluminum smelters in Europe, produces 200,000 tons of new metal a year.

"But we are in crucial weeks: to clarify to what extent we can contain the currently horrendous losses and gain a renewed, better perspective for the Rheinwerk", says Irmtraud Pawlik: "Hydro alone cannot do that. We need cooperation."
This text is machine translated. To view the original German text, click on DE on the top right of this window

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