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Dow continues to push German power plant project

18 Jun 2013 15:14 (+01:00 GMT)
Dow to pursue German power plant project

London, 18 June (Argus) — US firm Dow Chemical's plans to build an 850MW coal-fired power plant at its production site in Stade, northern Germany, are in line with the new state government's energy policy.

Dow Chemical continues to pursue the project but will only make a final investment decision once it has acquired all necessary permits, it said.

The new state government of Lower Saxony, a coalition between the SPD and the Green party, has recently been asked to make clear its position on the project after the CDU party questioned its support for the plant. The SPD-Green coalition committed in their coalition agreement, signed on 19 February, to support fossil fuel-based power plant in Lower Saxony only if their efficiency is 55pc or higher. Dow Chemical's proposed coal-fired power plant would have an efficiency of around 45pc for power generation and around 58pc for combined power, heat and steam production, bringing the plant's annual average efficiency to over 55pc.

But several concerns regarding the project, which has attracted over 9,000 complaints from the public so far, will need to be addressed during the planning and permitting procedure, the state government said. Dow Chemical plans to build the plant, with a gross capacity of 920MW for power generation and 2.1GW for heat generation, at Stade to supply the company with power, heat and process steam and sell excess electricity on the wholesale market.

The facility would operate in part on gas and biomass and generate hydrogen, which would be used in chemical processes at the site. Dow Chemical is in the process of acquiring approval for the plant's development and building plan.

The company is searching for a new project partner after Germany's third-largest utility, EnBW cancelled plans, to jointly develop a power plant complex, including a combined-cycle gas turbine and the coal-fired plant, in 2009. Dow Chemical reiterated that the plant is an “economically sensible” project despite challenging market conditions for fossil fuel-based power plants in Germany, which is aiming to increase renewable energy's share in its generation mix. The proposed plant will benefit from its high efficiency, combined heat and power generation, and integration of its output in chemical process on site, the firm said. But certainty that the building plan is on solid legal ground will be an important prerequisite for finding a new partner, it said.

Several coal-fired projects, most prominently Eon's 1.1GW Datteln 4 and Trianel's 750MW Luenen power plant projects, have faced legal challenges and delays in acquiring all permits because of strong public resistance against new coal-fired plants. The process is continuing in Eon's case.

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