* Boxberg R has 675 MW power capacity, cost $1 billion
* Will burn indigenous brown coal, independent of imports
FRANKFURT Oct 11 Swedish utility Vattenfall's
German unit started up a new coal-fired power station
on Thursday in a rare departure from the country's strategy to
focus on renewable energy and ditch its nuclear power.
The 675 megawatts (MW) Boxberg R plant in the eastern state
of Saxony will be fuelled with local brown coal from an adjacent
eastern German mining area and cost 1 billion euros ($1.29
billion) to build.
Saxony state premier Stanislaw Tillich said the brown coal
was local, providing for steady power generation and would
complement renewables, such as solar and windpower, whose output
varies depending on weather patterns.
"Our domestic brown coal is an important partner for
renewable energy because it guarantees security of supply," he
said in a statement.
Germany last year enacted a law under which its remaining
12,696 MW of nuclear capacity will be phased out over the next
That equates to around half its reliable electricity
capacity - that which is able to run 24 hours a day independent
of the weather. This means it needs to find at least partial
replacements through new gas and coal-fired plants.
Local brown coal mining firms say that imported hard coal
and gas make utility companies reliant on global fuel prices and
availability. Their product gets around these disadvantages
while also safeguarding thousands of local jobs, they say.
Boxberg R will bring total capacity at the Boxberg site to
2,575 MW, which is enough to supply four million households with
Vattenfall Europe Generation is the operator and Vattenfall
European Mining the raw materials provider.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Mike Nesbit)