The Environment Ministry doesn't like ČEZ's plan to modernise its brown-coal power plant Prunéřov II in northwest Bohemia.
The ministry says the upgraded facility will still not be efficient, burning too much coal and releasing too many pollutants. ČEZ plans for the reconstructed Prunéřov to have a 38% efficiency, but Minister Martin Bursík wants a 42% to 45% efficiency.
"Given the fact that the Prunéřov II plant is in an area with poor air quality, where emission limits are being regularly surpassed, it's essential to install technology that will be sensitive to the environment and to public health. This means the most modern technology with the lowest possible pollution levels and the lowest possible impact on the air quality in the area," the ministry told ČEZ in a written statement, which was made available to Aktuálně.cz.
Every percent counts
The Ecological Law Service (EPS), which earlier called attention to the low efficiency that the reconstructed Prunéřov plant would have, has welcomed the Environment Ministry's stance.
"Expert studies show that every percent that improves efficiency reduces the emissions of greenhouse gasses by about 2% to 3% and, of course, also decreases coal consumption," said EPS lawyer Jiří Nezhyba. He noted that it should not be a problem for ČEZ to increase the efficiency of its reconstructed plant, since it is planning a brown coal power plant in Ledvice with a more than 42.5% efficiency.
ČEZ insists it's using top-notch technology
But ČEZ says it is planning to use the most modern, and therefore also the most ecologically-sound, technology in the Prunéřov II plant, given the conditions.
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"The reason why we have decided to completely reconstruct Prunéřov II rather than building a new plant, as we did in Ledvice, which really will have a 42% efficiency, is that the Prunéřov area doesn't have a sufficient coal supply to last the lifespan of a new plant," ČEZ spokeswoman Eva Nováková told Aktuálně.cz. While the coal supply in Ledvice can last for 40 years, which is sufficient for the lifespan for a new plant, in Prunéřov, the supply will last only 25 years.
"A new power plant wouldn't be able to return the money invested in 25 years, or else the cost of the electricity generated would be so high, that no one would buy it," added Nováková. Even so, the efficiency of the Prunéřov plant will increase by 5 percentage points from the current 33%, thanks to the use of the most modern technology that this type of plant can support.
"A plant with a 38% efficiency will have the same emissions as a plant with a 42% efficiency. But with 42% efficiency, you can generate more electricity if you are burning the same amount of coal, so proportionally, the emissions are lower but the actual emissions are the same," she said.
She added that thanks to the closing down of Prunéřov I and the modernisation of Prunéřov II, the overall emissions will decrease by about one half.
We will explain it to Bursík
ČEZ wants to explain the project to the Enviornment Ministry again. "We will explain that in doing a complex reconstruction of Prunéřov we really are using the best technology available on the market," Nováková told Aktuálně.cz.
The question is whether ČEZ can succeed. Minister Bursík has criticised the reconstruction plans of north Bohemian power plants already a year ago.
"This is technology from the 1980s. I would like to see ČEZ invest its high profits into the most efficient technology available in the Czech Republic," said Bursík. ČEZ, where the state holds a majority, increased its net gain by 38% last year to a record CZK 29 billion.
ČEZ is planning to reconstruct up to 10 old coal-burning units and to build three new ones in the next six years. The cost of the modernisation will reach more than CZK 100 billion.
Adapted and republished by Prague Daily Monitor.