Illustration: © Shutterstock – Alzbeta and © Shutterstock – HarRock

Germany still constructing new coal power stations

Several countries in Europe, among them Germany, have recently built or are planning to build new coal power stations. Some examples of such plants are presented here.

Hard coal power plant, Datteln

Completion of the E.ON (now Uniper) coal power station at Datteln has been delayed repeatedly since 2007 by court injunctions due to non-compliance with zoning and environmental regulations. The construction site was determined by Friends of the Earth (BUND) to lie five kilometres distant from the original application location.

Following licence revisions, the plant will now be entering service in 2018 with 1,052 MW total electrical capacity. As much as 413 MW can be electronically converted to 16.7 Hz 110 kV traction power for the state railway system, Deutsche Bahn, superseding the 507 MW Steag coal power plant simultaneously being retired at Lünen.

The Datteln power station will have an electrical efficiency of 45 per cent, with an additional 380 MW of heating energy raising the total fuel utilization to over 59 per cent. The elimination of outlays for domestic furnaces, space heaters, and maintenance enhances customer acceptance of the district heating services.

Nevertheless, the Datteln power station may be incapable of complying with future air quality regulations. Effective from 19 January 2017, the environmental ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia had ordered the mercury emissions limit of 0.004 mg/m3 requested by Uniper to be halved to 0.002 mg/m3. Uniper later obtained a revocation of this directive from the district administration of Münster irrespective of impending court decisions. Coal power plants remain responsible for the greatest amounts of stratospheric mercury deposited worldwide from manmade sources.

Studies by the University of Stuttgart have also shown that cumulative mortality risks from the Datteln power station are increased by secondary aerosols from the chemical reactions of smokestack effluents with atmospheric ammonia. Low-emission energy technologies therefore remain essential for reducing airborne contaminants.

Hard coal power plant, Lünen

The coal power station at Lünen North Rhine-Westphalia was completed in 2013 at a cost of €1.4 billion by Trianel GmbH. The original configuration with an electrical capacity of 750 MW had achieved an efficiency of 45.95 per cent. Up to 160 MW of excess heat is fed through a 617 metre pipeline into the 44 km Stadtwerke Lünen district heating network, increasing the effective utilization of the power plant to around 50 per cent but reducing the power efficiency to 44.96 per cent and the electrical capacity to 736 MW. Owing to advanced effluent filters, the company claims that 8,000 years would be required for the power station to deposit a dust layer of just 0.1 mm thickness on surrounding buildings.

Moorburg hard coal power station, Hamburg

The 2 x 774 MW Vattenfall power station in the Hamburg harbour district of Moorburg can deliver 11 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which is nearly sufficient for the city’s 1.9 million inhabitants. With a net generating efficiency of up to 48.3 per cent, the electrical output can be reduced as low as 26 per cent of maximum capacity whenever warranted by grid conditions. The plant had incurred major revisions before entering service behind schedule in 2015. Thermal stresses had required one-tenth of the T24 boiler steel to be replaced after initial trial runs. In the original design, a water volume of 64 m3/s would have been diverted from the Elbe River through the cooling circuit, greatly endangering aquatic ecosystems. Closed-cycle evaporation cooling towers were therefore retrofitted that diminished the net plant capacity by only about one per cent. The hybrid (wet and dry) design with a low structural height of 85 metres significantly reduces cooling steam clouds above the Elbe shoreline.

Moorburg now releases up to 8.7 Mt of greenhouse gases annually in conventional operation.

Industrial mixed firing power plant, Stade

A coal power plant designed by DowDuPont for its existing chemical manufacturing facility in Stade near Hamburg will include a newly built gas and steam turbine generator. The main dual industrial boiler concept is configured for hard coal firing with up to 10 per cent each of biomass and hydrogen released by the electrolytic production of chlorine.

The 45 per cent electrical efficiency of the central 1,000 MW generator in combination with 300 MW steam for the factory results in an overall fuel efficiency approaching 60 per cent. Employing a hybrid cooling tower precludes the need for drawing cooling water from the Elbe River.  

A completion date for the plant has not been announced, however. According to Reinhard Elfring, city council member of the Green Party, DowDuPont does not intend to operate the plant itself, since it is not a utility company. A partner corporation has not yet been identified. The estimated facility cost of up to €2 billion would require half a century of continuous production to be justified.

The American headquarter corporation DowDuPont Inc. has already confirmed “strong leading indicators of broad-based growth across developed economies including the United States, Germany and France” that will be favourable to future business. Any losses incurred by CO2 regulations on coal power generation could likely be compensated by increased revenues from chemical manufacturing.   

Multipurpose lignite power station, Schkopau

Schkopau, near the eastern German city of Halle, has been a centre of the chemical synthesis industry for over a century. A new dual-block lignite power station with 900 MW electrical capacity was dedicated in 1995/96 to complement overall site modernization. The facility owners are Uniper Kraftwerke GmbH, Düsseldorf (58.1%) and the EPH subsidiary Saale Energie GmbH in Schkopau (41.9%).

The combined plant configuration includes a 110 MW 16 2/3 Hz generator for traction power on the German railway system, two 400 MW class generators for 50 Hz grid electricity, and low- and high-pressure steam production employed by the adjacent DowDuPont chemical plant and local heating services. In 2016, electrical power of about 5 TWh was generated from 4.7 million metric tons (Mt) of lignite delivered by rail from the 40 km distant MIBRAG Profen mine, which is likewise owned by EPH.

Since the present MIBRAG delivery contract expires in 2021, a corresponding near-term opportunity could arise to eliminate lignite usage altogether. DowDuPont is already converting some of its manufacturing plants in the United States to renewable energies. Solid-state frequency converters at Schkopau would allow substitute railway power to be drawn from the local high-voltage transmission grid to supersede the existing 110 MW generator, with 100 per cent renewable electrical energy predicted for the region by 2030.

Jeffrey Michael

The article and list of plants will be continued in the next issue of Acid News with the following plant projects:
- RWE BoA lignite power plants, Germany;
- Expanded and modernized lignite power generation in Turów and
Bełchatów, Poland;  
- New coal generation for energy security at Kozienice, Poland;
- Hard coal capacity expansion in Opole, Poland;
- Delayed advanced lignite power plant at Ledvice, Czech Republic;
- Lignite plants in the Balkan region.




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