Electricity

Croatia examining alternative fuels for its retired coal plant Plomin 1

Croatia considering alternative fuels retired coal plant Plomin 1

Photo: HEP Group

Published

June 7, 2022

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Published:

June 7, 2022

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Kemokop VPC GmbH and Goudini International Advisory were picked to determine the best available techniques for using gas, biomass and waste in thermal power plant Plomin 1, which ran on coal until a massive breakdown in 2017, since when it has been offline. HEP Group’s move faces opposition from the local population and environmentalists.

Croatia has only one coal power plant left – Plomin 2 or Plomin B, with a nameplate capacity of 217 MW. The facility in Istria in the country’s west was built in 2000. It uses bituminous coal from overseas.

The energy crisis, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the European Union’s ban on Russian coal and oil, prompted state-owned utility Hrvatska elektroprivreda – HEP Group to look for solutions. It decided to examine the ways to get Plomin 1 back online.

Croatia has decided to end the use of coal by 2033

The 125 MW coal plant unit, also known as Plomin A, was built in 1970. It operated until 2017, when it suffered a heavy fire, after which environmentalists and the public pressured HEP Group and the government to shut it down permanently. The facility’s environmental license expired at the end of the year and it has been dormant since, as it doesn’t meet the requirements from the permit it received in 2019.

A controversial plan to build Plomin 3 was met by protests and lawsuits and never got off the ground. Last year the government vowed to end coal use by 2033.

Croatian-German consortium hired to examine potential switch to gas, biomass, waste

HEP Group has just selected the consortium of Kemokop VPC GmbH from Croatia and Goudini International Advisory from Germany to determine the best available techniques (BAT) for the use of alternative fuels – gas, biomass and waste – in the defunct unit, domestic media reported.

The company estimated the project at EUR 1 million and the two firms won with a bid of under EUR 550,000. Ivicom Consulting and Steag Energy Services also responded to the call, separately, but their bids were higher.

The alternative solution must result in less waste, lower emissions

The study must include a comprehensive waste management system, energy recovery from waste and a reduction in landfilled waste and greenhouse gas emissions from the landfill. The consortium is obliged to take spatial planning, cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency standards and technical issues into account.

The contractors will need to determine the optimal capacity for a revamped Plomin 1.

Alternative fuels could extend life of both units in Plomin

Environmentalists weren’t pleased with the decision to shorten Plomin 2’s lifespan by seven years to 2033 and they organized a protest in December with a demand to close the unit by the end of 2023. The energy crisis seems to have turned the sector upside down, again, so a path could open for Plomin 2 with the new project to also switch to alternative fuel.

Valter Glavičić, head of the nearby Municipality of Labin, said the Government of Croatia would have to discuss the proposals with the locals. The people from the Labinština area could accept the use of gas and biomass with a small share of waste, he added. However, Glavičić also warned of risks from the energy crisis. “We can’t live without energy,” he stated.

Of note, for more than two decades the cement factory in Koromačno has been using Plomin’s ash and gypsum, a byproduct of its operations, as commodities.

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