Gas plants shutting across Europe in face of demand drop, cheap coal, RE.

REW: “Three years ago, Germany’s largest utility spent 400 million euros ($523 million) building a natural gas-fired power station. Later this month, the company may close the plant because it’s losing so much money.” “EON SE’s Irsching-5 in  Bavaria ast year operated less than 25 percent of the time as slumping power prices made burning natural gas unprofitable by record margins. As Europe’s weak economy holds back electricity demand, cheaper coal, requirements to buy renewable energy and the collapsing cost of carbon permits are undercutting gas-fired plants. The pattern is repeated throughout Europe as utilities including France’s GDF Suez SA and Centrica Plc mothball gas plants.  ….“Gas-fired plants are stopped three days out of four,” Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of GDF Suez, France’s former gas monopoly, said at a briefing on Feb. 28. “The thermal industry is in crisis. There is overcapacity.” ….At the same time, spark spreads for coal plants are profitable in every European market tracked by Bloomberg as prices for the fuel drop. ….Utilities in Europe need to shut more than 30 percent of fossil-fuel fired stations to counter increasing production from wind turbines and solar, UBS analysts led by Per Lekander said in a note last week. Gas-fired plants will lead shutdowns, they said.”