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German coal-fired power plant upgrade makes progress

World Coal,

Progress is being made at German utility RWE’s 1600 MW Hamm coal-fired power plant, as the first 800 MW unit of the new 1600 MW upgrade is expected to begin commercial operations in the coming autumn. The upgrade is comprised of coal-fired units D and E, both with capacities of 800 MW.

Hamm’s unit D has already begun feeding power to the grid, as part of the ramping-up and test phase. Once unit D has started commercial operations, unit E is expected to follow suit shortly afterward.

The units will replace the 160 MW units commissioned in 1962/63. RWE is looking to expand capacity at the site. At the same electricity production, the new plant will require 20% less coal, with net efficiency of 46%. The new units are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 2.5 million tpa compared with legacy plants. The power plant also has the potential to be retrofitted with a flue gas scrubber, which allows CO2 to be captured and stored.

RWE is building the two units in co-operation with 23 municipal utilities (stadtwerke), which hold a combined stake of 23% in the project and have 25-year supply contracts for a combined capacity of 350 MW.

The plant is overdue coming on line, having initially been scheduled to come on line in 2011. However, problems with a faulty T24 steel alloy caused long delays, which in turn increased investment costs by €300 million to a total of €2.3 billion.

The high efficiency and flexibility of the new units means that they are well placed within Germany's energy transition away from nuclear power and towards a rising share of renewable power, which will require thermal coal power plants to balance intermittent wind and solar power generation, RWE said.

Edited from various sources by Samuel Dodson

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