Truncating the exemption for Počerady may jeopardise electricity availability; Sev.en Energy bringing a legal action
Prague, 8 November 2021 – Sev.en Energy, an energy company, has applied to a court to review the decision-making process for an emission-related exemption for the Počerady Power Station. Sev.en Energy considers that the periods of time granted to it for greening the generating units have been inadequately reduced, moreover, in a situation a short time from the moment when the power station changed hands. The operator warns that any administrative constraints on the operation of this stable and independent generating plant can deepen the energy crisis in Europe before the coming winter. In particular lobbying organisations have pushed through the tightening of the conditions for retrofitting the power station.
The partial and time-limited exemption for Počerady, the granting of which is directly encouraged by the EU legislation, applies only to mercury emissions and originally was to be applicable across-the-board to all five units for four years. However, the appellate body (the Ministry of the Environment) has reduced the applicability: for two units to mid-2024, for one unit to the end of 2024, and for the remaining two units to mid-2025. The Ministry was taking the decision in an atmosphere of permanent pressure exerted by environmental activists who were calling for a complete cancellation of the exemption. Last week, they also impugned the Ministry’s decision in a legal action demanding, inter alia, an injunction that could result in an immediate halting of the operation of this largest coal-fired power station in the country.
“At a time when people fear their next electricity bill and when the risk of blackouts during the coming winter is being increasingly discussed in Europe, every stable generating plant with low production costs is needed. If we do not generate electricity in Počerady somebody else will generate it, costlier and dirtier, in the better case or nobody will generate it in the worse case. When windless, overcast, and freezing weather prevails for a few weeks, it will already be too late for such considerations, unfortunately,” saidLuboš Pavlas, the CEO of Sev.en Energy.
“The experience with similar greening of the Chvaletice Power Station’s operation clearly confirms two trends that should be fundamental for everyone who really wants to protect nature. First, every emission reduction project is already so demanding in technological and investment terms today that it requires a lot of time. Secondly, when we grant this time to the operator, the result is a significant reduction in impacts on air quality. And indeed, since we took the Chvaletice Power Station over from the former owner, its emissions have been approximately halved. Shortening the time periods for Počerady greening is unacceptable for us because such step absolutely ignores the time required for testing and fine-tuning the installed equipment,” said Stanislav Klanduch, the CEO of Elektrárny Počerady, a.s.
The emission exemption allows power stations and CHP plants to enter into a greening scheme and meet the new EU limits, applicable since 17 August 2021, at a later date. The limits were approved in the strictest variant considered, and therefore most of the coal-driven generating plants in the Czech Republic and the whole EU applied for this exemption and almost all have been granted the exemption to date. “The legislators have included emission exemptions into the EU legislation for one simple reason. They are well aware that there is no operationally proven technology guaranteeing the required reduction in, primarily, the residual emissions of mercury,” concludes Luboš Pavlas.
Sev.en Energy Group is a major player in the Czech energy market. In the Czech Republic, the Group’s portfolio includes the Chvaletice and Počerady power stations, the Kladno and Zlín CHP plants, and two brown coal surface mines in northern Bohemia. Outside the Czech Republic, it owns gas and coal fired power stations in the UK and Australia. In the US, it holds a 100% equity stake in Blackhawk Mining and a 12.6% stake in Corsa Coal Corp. These two companies are major producers of metallurgical coal for steel production. The Group trades in energy in the integrated European market.
With its installed capacity of 1,000 MW, the Počerady Power Station is the largest thermal power station and the third largest energy generating plant in the Czech Republic. Originally, it was intended for Egypt, but this international contract came to nil in the 1950s and the completed African project was used for building a plant in northern Bohemia. In the 1990s, the power station underwent extensive greening and was the first in the country to put into operation desulphurised generating units. In 2014 and 2015, the greening of units 2 and 5 followed, and has since reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by 60%. In late 2020, the power station became part of Sev.en Energy Group. The Group is currently preparing additional investment projects worth billions of Czech crowns which will make it possible to meet the new strict EU emission limits in the future. The power station provides ancillary services to the electricity transmission system, thereby contributing to the stability of the country’s electrical grid. The company is also a major employer in the region.
Sev.en EC Media Representative
GSM: +420 725 727 037
Gabriela Sáričková Benešová
Sev.en Energy Spokeswoman
GSM: +420 725 327 758