The New Coal Fired Power Station in Germany

Given the European energy policies of increasing the share of CHP and renewable energy and decreasing CO2 emissions, a new large coal-fired power station is not the first thing to come to mind as an obvious solution. Nor will the import of hard coal create benefits to European energy security or the balance of payment. However, this is exactly the proposal that DONG has presented and is now promoting in North Germany. Such technology fits well into the existing organization of DONG, which operates several coal-fired power stations in Denmark and has a very competent and skilled section with expertise in the design and construction of such power stations.

Based on the experience of, for example, the Nordjyllandsv^rk case, one should expect a series of half-true statements declaring that the power station will provide environmental benefits because it replaces old power stations and that the power station uses CHP, even though the town near the location is so small compared to the size of the station that this will only be symbolic. Such statements have already been heard.

When confronted by the fact that a coal-fired power station with a construction time of 5 years and a lifetime of maybe 30 years represents a solution that will cause CO2 emission problems to Europe in the long term, the answer seems to be carbon capturing technologies. Consequently, society is confronted with the questions "Is this a good solution? Why not build some more coal-fired power stations if carbon capture can solve the problems?" In such situations, the advice of this book is to insist on comparing the solution in question with the relevant alternatives in other words, to create Choice Awareness. The idea is to change the discussion from whether such a new coal-fired power station is good or bad to which alternative is the best in relation to fulfilling relevant political objectives.

Figure 8.1 shows an example of such an alternative. It should be emphasized that the diagram represents a sketch of the principles. It is not based on exact data with regard to heating demands. However, on the basis of the cases described in Chapter 7, the figure is likely to represent a realistic example. The reference is a 1600 MW coal-fired power station as proposed by DONG (step 1) and adding a carbon capturing station (step 2). The power station is assumed to have an efficiency of 47 percent, and the carbon capturing station is assumed to consume between a quarter and one-third of the power produced at the power station.

Apart from coal, the main problem related to the reference proposal is that it is far from fully exploiting the potential of CHP. Consequently, the alternative is (step 1) to build a number of small CHP stations located in the towns and villages of the surrounding district. Later (step 2), heat pumps and heat storage capacities will be added, and such flexible energy systems will be exploited to increase the share of wind power. The small CHP stations may be fueled with a combination of natural gas (it is likely that the houses are heated by natural gas) and local biomass resources, such as biogas and straw.

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