Complex refurbishment of Prunéřov or fiction versus reality

Prunéřov – Nongovernmental organisations systematically argue about the planned complex refurbishment of the Prunéřov II Power Plant with their half-truths or untruths. It is not the truth that the prepared modernisation will damage environment in North Bohemia. It is not the truth that ČEZ wants to install obsolete technologies. The contrary is the case, the fictive option promoted by nongovernmental organisations is infeasible in reality not just in technical and economic aspect but also in terms of ecology.

It is the nongovernmental organisations that aim to politically interfere in the approving process clearly defined by European and Czech legislation. Every day by which they postpone the replacement of old units of the power plant with new ones due to their campaign, means unreasonable load of environment in North Bohemia. 

Environment must not be hostage 

ČEZ takes its responsibility for environment very seriously. Therefore it invests tens of billions in ecologization of coal-burning power plants.

Factors that directly affect the quality of life of North Bohemia citizens are emissions of sulphur, nitrogen and fly-ash. ČEZ already reduced these factors significantly during the first ecologization of coal-burning power plants in the second half of the 90’s. ČEZ now uses the latest technologies that are according to European requirements to reduce the emissions significantly again during the second round of ecologization. The actual modernisation of the Tušimice power plant, the new unit replacing the old ones in Ledvice and the prepared modernisation of Prunéřov are a clear and specific way to cleaner air in North Bohemia.

Why is the supercritical unit in Prunéřov a fiction

The fictive option of building a supercritical unit in Prunéřov promoted by opponents requires coal of a better quality which would mean an extension of the power plant operation from the planned 25 to 40 years to begin with and secondly for the whole life of the power plant the coal would have to be imported to large distances. Each of these factors has an important impact on the total increase of the produced emissions of pollutants and CO2 minimally by 30%. The theoretical calculations of efficiency presented by opponents completely change also due to the fact that the supercritical unit could not be used for heating by reliability reasons and in terms of the electrification system stability the solution would not be able to provide services necessary for the grid stability.

Obsolete technology myth

From the aspect of experts who are devoted to technologies and techniques used in energetics this is an absolute nonsense. ČEZ will not use “obsolete scrap” but the latest technologies that correspond to the intention of a complex refurbishment of the Prunéřov II Power Plant. The condition for use of the best available technology on part of ČEZ is definitely met. (Problem is on part of those who misinterpret the meaning and function of the best available technology and documents describing these technologies, so-called BREF documents.) This is also stated in the appraisal ordered by the Ministry of Environment. Parameters in the area of air protection, of which the new facility will dispose, are on the level of the strictest required values. For example in case of solid pollutants, with which the Czech Republic experiences problems in the area of air quality (see for example the situation in the Ostrava region last week), the parameters in of the refurbished power plant would be 3x stricter than the ones normally defined for new sources by law.

What about the planned efficiency

Also the argument that the designed efficiency is much lower than it should be and that ČEZ refuses increasing of the efficiency by 10 % etc. is untrue. Opponents compare different terms. Efficiency can be monitored and recorded in various operating modes of energy sources. Comparison of an efficiency is not as trivial because some energy sources are operated only in the condensate mode (only for production of electricity), whilst other concurrently serve for delivery of heat for citizens of municipalities around the power plants. That is also the case of the Prunéřov II Power Plant.

The value of efficiency amounted 38% repeated by the activists again and again cannot be compared to BAT values.

The value that can be compared to BAT is 40.19% (the value of an efficiency of modernised power plant converted according to European methodology). This is a value which is also a part of expert opinions ordered by the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic.

Public, is however presented the fact about the efficiency so that ČEZ will significantly save in the area of erection of a little effective source. That is naturally not the truth. It is also ČEZ interest for the installed technology to be of the highest possible efficiency because the production of electricity and heat is more effective and economic. 

ČEZ endeavours after better environment, nongovernmental organisations do not

The considered option is said to have negative impacts on human health and nature in the Czech Republic and therefore that the proposed solution will apparently bring impairment of life conditions in the region. This statement is fully untrue and ČEZ strongly protests against it.

As well as investments in desulphurisation of power plants in 1990’s, only further investments that ČEZ has been implemented lately or is going to implement can help environment.

The very strict emission parameters that the new power plant would guarantee ensure further significant improvement in the areas in which the power plant affects the quality of air. Pollutant emissions will decrease markedly, at nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide approximately by 60% and by 40% at solid pollutants. Due to the refurbishment of the Prunéřov II Power Plant also the often mentioned emissions of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) can be reduced approximately by 30 %.

 In case of one unit people can forfeit heat

ČEZ does not want to install the supercritical unit with higher efficiency? Yes, it does, if it is technically possible. Where it is possible, we are not against. On the contrary, we are pleased when we can produce more electricity. Higher efficiency has a direct relation only to production of more electric power but the amount of emissions may be reviewed only for the whole life of the power plant. The repeated statement “higher efficiency equals to lower emissions” is therefore a fiction.

The supercritical units, as wanted by Greenpeace or the Environmental law service, with the efficiency of 42% have a minimal power of about 700 MW, lower power does not bring any effect. However, if you supply heat in the location, you must have a standby source for the case of a failure (we still talk about technology where a failure may occur). This is not possible at power plants with one unit. This efficiency cannot be achieved with lower power. The proposal for an additional erection of a standby heating plant in case of the fictive option of the supercritical solution would be other producer of pollutant emissions with other impact on quality of air in North Bohemia.

The primary limitation, however, is the quality of coal which will deteriorate as the time goes by (most modern coal-burning power plants in the world burn black coal of a good quality). Using the locally available lignite it is not possible to achieve higher efficiency when using the “supercritical unit” either (42% and more). Therefore all studies showed that the most environmental solution are three units providing sufficient standby for supply of heat.

Erection of the supercritical unit could therefore disable supply of heat to thousands of households. They would then have to spend considerable financial means to purchase own heat sources and in addition to that it would naturally come about an impairment of the quality of air in all municipalities without the availability of remote heat from the Prunéřov power plants.

What will happen in case the opinion on EIA on part of the ministry is negative

If there arose this worst option, there would be no other choice but to further operate the power plant in the current condition until the end of its life. In case of a good maintenance the life expires after 2020. The date of the power plant decommissioning will depend especially on the availability of fuel from the Libouš opencast mine. Of course that the equipment would undergo small adjustments during the planned outages. Compared to a modernised power plant it would, however, produce double volume of emissions. That would be the possible worst solution for environment. Modernisation for example reduces the amount of discharged NOx by 59%.

Other requirement of nongovernmental organisations to otherwise close the power plant by the end of 2015 is faint. Also without the essential modernisation Prunéřov can meet all emission limits valid in the relevant period both within the Czech Republic and EU.

Final resume

The ČEZ Group wants to modernize the Prunéřov II Power Plant according to available possibilities, whereas all emissions will decrease on average by 50%. In addition the complex refurbishment will offer job opportunities for many people and companies. On part of ČEZ it is therefore an important environmental and economic help to the region and employers all over the Czech Republic. If the power plant is not modernised, it can still be further operated with all the environmental conjunctions. In case Prunéřov is modernised, it will be operated as an ecologically clean and modern source approximately by 2040 and minimally for the period of the construction it will contribute to development of the region during the economically difficult times.

More about the planned complex refurbishment of the Prunéřov II power plant.

February 2010