Our fossil-fired power stations operated without any significant operational breakdowns in 2012. However, a major fire occurred at the Tilbury power station (United Kingdom). The coal-fired power station was previously converted to combustion of biomass (wood pellets). On 27 February 2012, twelve weeks after operation started up, a major fire broke out in the wood-pellet bunker for boilers 9 and 10. This was brought under control on the same day. The emergency plans for the site proved to be very effective and were appropriate. Nobody was injured. The fire also resulted in no breaches of wastewater threshold limits or other consequential damage to the environment.
We operate our conventional power stations within the framework of the statutory emission values which are defined by the European Directive on Large Combustion Plants. This directive permits much higher emissions for old plants in the United Kingdom, which only have a limited operating period, than for other plants. In the United Kingdom, we have therefore generated twice as much electricity from hard coal in accordance with the market conditions compared with the previous year. This included the old power plant Didcot A which is scheduled to be shut down at the end of March 2013. Within the framework of a general increase in electricity generation from fossil fuels, this contributed significantly to an increase in emissions (key data tool). The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) of the European Union was enacted in 2011 and will be important for the future operation of our thermal power stations. Most of the emission limits under this directive will have to be complied with from 1 January 2016. The IED regulates a number of issues including the emission limits of SO2, NOx and dust emissions. The goal of the directive is to achieve greater standardisation in Europe and align the industry with the best available technology in each case. The directive is currently being implemented nationally in the relevant member states. RWE will implement the tougher requirements defined by the IED with state-specific reference to the individual power stations.
In Germany and the United Kingdom, we have cooperated with government agencies in implementing three specific aspects of the IED: compliance with emission limit values and limited life operation (opt-out) and the transitional national plans for the new IED.
Upgrades at most of our German power stations are not necessary, because our plants are generally speaking already able to comply safely with the values introduced with implementation of the IED in the Bundesimmissionsschutzrecht (Federal Air Pollution Protection Act).
The British government intends to implement the Directive fully in the United Kingdom, and to provide power-plant operators with the options either to comply with stricter emission limit values, to operate for a limited life (opt out) or to participate in the Transitional National Plan. However, the Government does not intend to go beyond the requirements of the Directive. RWE is continuing to work with Government and Regulators to reach a decision about the compliance options in terms of shutdown or upgrade for each of our power stations before the directive comes into force.
We have a modern power-station portfolio in the Netherlands. Our plants also meet the stricter Dutch IED requirements that come into force from 2016. We only have to upgrade two smaller power stations there in order to meet the stricter emission limits for NOx emissions from 2016. The requirements of the IED Directive are also complied with in Hungary.