EnBW, Swiss BKW detail German coal power plant plan

FRANKFURT Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:21am EDT

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Southwestern German utility EnBW and Swiss peer BKW FMB firmed up long-standing plans for a new coal-fired power station to be built jointly at Doerpen in north Germany.

"We aim to develop a technical plan for the plant by the summer of 2009," said EnBW's Technical Director Hans-Josef Zimmer in a statement on Thursday, issued by EnBW after the two parties signed a letter of intent.

A spokeswoman for EnBW said reference projects tended to be of 800 to 900 megawatts (MW) capacity and at current costs would involve an investment of "clearly above one billion euros ($1.35 billion)." The plant may start operating in 2015, she said.

The letter of intent entails EnBW taking a 75.1 percent share in the project company STKW Energie Doerpen, which previously belonged fully to BKW.

The move by the two companies comes as several other coal plant projects in Germany are under attack due to environmental concerns about the high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning the fuel to generate electricity.

Anti-coal lobbies are fighting to block permits at several potential sites, sometimes fueled by local hostility to any new infrastructure.

EnBW has so far been unscathed. Last September it began construction of a 900 MW hard coal fired unit at Karlsruhe port to come online at end-2011, without meeting opposition.

EnBW said the Doerpen plant would use highly efficient technology, which implies coal inputs can be lowered, in turn reducing CO2 emissions.

The plans would provide for an option to use so-called combined heat and power (CHP) generation, which recycles heat from the process rather than just releasing it into the air.

A further provision will be made to allow for future use of so-called carbon sequestration (CCS) by allocating space for installations at the plant to scrub off, or capture CO2, once technology to do so is mature enough to be employed.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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