3 september 2009

Farmer deals blow to power plant in Germany

Scientific American, September 3, 2009
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German farmer has dealt a blow to efforts by the country's largest utility E.ON AG to build a coal-fired power plant as opposition grows to power stations that emit carbon dioxide.

The Higher Administrative Court for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia ruled in favor of the farmer who had challenged E.ON's plans to build a 1,050 megawatt power station in Datteln in northern Germany.

The ruling comes amid a string of legal challenges to power plants in Germany, Europe's largest power market, as citizens and local opposition argue these plants help increasing global warming.

E.ON's competitor RWE had to abandon plans to build a hard coal fired power plant in Ensdorf in western Germany after people in the region voted against the plant.

E.ON's plant in Datteln does not sufficiently take into account the dangers of the power station for the local population and E.ON is building the plant at a location that is actually not envisaged for such a power plant, the court ruled.

The court declared a plan from the city of Datteln for the plant as invalid as it does not take into account prerequisites from the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia for a sustainable use of energy.

E.ON said it had to study the ruling in order to determine its future actions. (Reporting by Peter Dinkloh; Editing by David Holmes)

Note by 4C on 4 September: An earlier report on blockage of a new coal-fired power plant in Germany has just reached us from Elias Perabo of the Anti-Kohlekampagne der Klima-Allianz, relayed in a Climate Action Network e-mail. It is as follows:

Banks Pull Funding For German Coal-Fired Power Plant

GALWAY, IRELAND--August 25, 2009--Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)--The construction of an 823-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant at Ingelheimer Aue near Mainz, Germany, will grind to a halt unless further financing can be secured. Kraftwerke Mainz-Wiesbaden AG (KMW AG) has said that the 1 billion euro project ($1.4 billion) is now in serious jeopardy because the banks are unwilling to loan the money needed to continue the project. British financial institution Barclays plc (NYSE:BCS) (London) is known to have withdrawn from the project.

The contract to build the plant was won by a consortium led by Siemens AG (NYSE:SI) (Munich, Germany), which featured boiler supplier IHI Charging Systems International GmbH (Heidelberg, Germany) and Austria Energy and Environment (Osterreich, Austria). For additional details, see February 11, 2009, article - German Authorities Approve Construction of 850-Megawatt Coal-Fired Power Plant. KMW has warned that if a lender cannot be found by December, the contractors will be able to opt of their contracts and seek damages of up to 150 million euros.

According to Bernhard Lorenz, a member of KMW's supervisory board: "[The plant] was one of the largest projects to be financed in Germany since the outbreak of the financial crisis." The chances that the plant will be completed, he added, are no more than 50%.

He said: "What once was easy to finance, now presents a very difficult problem." Lorenz claimed the banks are very reluctant to loan money even to "healthy core businesses, such as KMW."

Construction on the hard-coal-fired combined heat and power plant began in May at the existing KMW power plant site in Mainz and was scheduled to be completed in 2013. The plant was expected to attain a high efficiency of 46%. As well as electricity, the cogeneration plant will also produce 200 MW of heat for up to 40,000 households and approximately 30 MW of process steam for industrial plants in Mainz. Partners AE&E and IHI, will supply the tower boiler, the flue-gas desulfurization plant and other supply and disposal systems.

The plant has been the subject of vigorous protests. Before planning was granted, more than 45,000 individual protests needed to be addressed.

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