Dutch utility Nuon postpones construction of coal-fired power plant unit

Source: Nuon

Dutch utility Nuon has decided to postpone its plans for the possible gasification of biomass and coal at its new electricity power complex at Eemshaven.

Nuon announced plans in 2007 for the 1.5 billion euro ($2.1 billion), 1,200-megawatt complex that will generate power from a combination of gas, biomass and coal.

Commercial reasons, such as the trend in raw material prices, play a significant role in the decision not to make an investment decision in the short term about the application of gasification technology. This technology consists of a coal and biomass gasification element combined with the capture and storage of CO2.

In addition, this decision is the result of a long-running constructive dialogue with nature and environmental organizations, among others. Nuon has been in discussion with these parties for some time and has entered into an agreement with them. In this agreement, Nuon states that it will not bring the gasification part of the power plant on stream before 2020. Other important elements of the agreement relate specifically to CO2 emissions. Once the gasification part is ready, these emissions will not exceed 360g/kWh (equivalent to the emissions from a modern gas-fired power plant). The environmental parties involved are at the same time withdrawing their legal objections to the gas-fired power station currently under construction.

“As an energy company, Nuon is leading the way with this approach and is setting the bar high for the reduction of CO2 emissions from the coal-fired part of this power plant”, says Ron Wit from the Netherlands Society for Nature and the Environment. “This approach sets a good example for energy companies and should be replicated in the Netherlands and Europe.”

Recent discussions about CO2 capture and storage have shown that there is currently insufficient support for this technology, in particular for onshore storage. The postponement of the investment decision for the expansion is in line with the strategy previously adopted by Vattenfall not to build new coal-fired capacity without the possibility of CO2 capture and storage.

“The use of coal and the capture and storage of CO2 is part of a wider debate in society”, says Huib Morelisse, CEO of N.V. Nuon Energy. “There are many perspectives and opinions involved in this discussion and we do not want to be constrained by the time pressure of permit or subsidy processes. This is why we have entered into this agreement with the parties involved. It is a postponement of the use of gasification technology based on biomass and coal. Because we are also contributing to the reliable supply of energy at an affordable price with Nuon Magnum, it is simply too early to exclude this multi-fuel gasification technology at this point.”

The construction of the Nuon Magnum gas-fired power station is progressing well. This power station will be ready at the end of 2012 and will supply electricity to two million households.

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