- Project requires stable political background
- Total investment €750 million
- Open-cast lignite mining to expand
A total of €750 million is to be invested in a lignite-fired power plant in Visonta, Hungary. Total output will be 400 megawatts, and the open-cast lignite mine at Bükkábrány will expand. The project is subject to approval by the Supervisory Board of power generating utility Mátra, in which RWE Power has a majority 50.9 percent holding. Other major shareholders are the state power company Magyar Villamos Müvek (MVM), which holds 25.5 percent, and EnBW, holding 21.7 percent.
"This plan is our contribution to securing long-term energy supply from Hungary's only available native energy resource, lignite. Our investment will include the use of advanced, environmentally friendly technology," emphasises Jan Zilius, Chairman of the Board of Directors of RWE Power. "It forms the basis for continuing our existing successful involvement in Hungary," he adds. RWE Power has made it clear that the precondition for execution of the project is a stable political background. The key factor here is that the national plan for the second emissions trading period (2008 – 2012) should assure a sufficient allocation of emission certificates for the next 14 years.
Using modern technology, the new lignite-fired power plan will emit far less than equivalent old-style plants in Hungary. It also offers the option of burning biomass. Operating at over 41 percent efficiency, this will be one of the most modern power plants in Eastern Europe. The plant will be built on a turnkey basis. It will secure the future of open-cast mining at Bükkábrány, which will assure the long-term supply of lignite to the new power plant. This will necessitate boosting extraction capacity, converting existing conveyors and adding new ones. A railway line and high-voltage power lines are also to be installed.
"It is important to us to use domestic companies to participate in building the new plant and carrying out the expansion measures," explains Matthias Hartung. He holds responsibility on the Board of RWE Power for lignite mining/refinement and is also a member of the Supervisory Board of Mátra. "Overall, the region will benefit from the investment," continues Hartung. It is equally important that employees should have firm prospects for the future.
As early as this December, Mátra will take delivery of the first of two back-pressure gas turbines, each outputting 29 megawatts, for trial. This will increase the site's installed power to more than 930 megawatts, a capacity meeting over 15 percent of Hungary's total electricity requirement. The investment volume is €60 million.
RWE has already been present in Hungary since the mid-1990s: the country is one of the company's principal East European target markets. 2500 people are employed at the Visonta and Bükkábrány sites. In addition to its generation business, RWE has an interest in distribution, including its holdings in ELMÜ and EMASZ. In total more than two million customers are supplied with electricity.