HomeCoal FiredCzech Republic's largest district heating plant shuts coal unit

Czech Republic’s largest district heating plant shuts coal unit

The CEZ Group has closed a unit at the Mělník coal-fired power plant, the Czech Republic’s largest source of district heating. The closure of Mělník III is part of the utility’s effort to transition its heat production and distribution business from coal-fired to low-carbon technologies, according to a statement.

CEZ Group plans to retire the three coal-fired units at Mělník by 2030 as the company accelerates its transition to clean energy resources to mitigate climate change.

In its Clean Energy of Tomorrow strategy presented in May 2021, CEZ Group announced plans to deploy 6GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 to decarbonise its operations and align business with the European Commission’s climate mitigation policies. The renewables target will enable the company to accelerate its retirement of coal energy generation. By 2030, the utility plans to have only 12.5% of its total electricity produced using coal.

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To ensure a low-carbon heating business, CEZ Group will be investing CZK40 billion ($1.8 billion) to modernise its district heating system by 2030. The modernisation includes replacing coal-fired electricity and heat generators at Mělník with low-carbon heat generators that will be powered using gas, biomass, and other modern technologies.

ČEZ Group will be installing energy-efficient steam gas generators, hydrogen combustion and production systems, biomass boilers, heat pumps, and waste-to-energy recovery equipment at the three units.The electric boilers under consideration will also be used to help regulate the electricity transmission and distribution system.

With district heating accounting for nearly 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Czech Republic, replacing coal-fired heat production with green technologies will play a key role in the country’s energy transition. ČEZ Group says the project will help the company to meet its sustainability goals and carbon emissions targets set by Prague, Melnik, and Neratovice, cities supplied heat by the Melnik power plant.

Pavel Cyrani, ČEZ Deputy Chairman of the Board, adds: “The greening of the Mělník-based plant is one of the important steps to achieving low-emission production. Due to the size of the Mělník source and its importance for Prague, this is where we will direct the largest share of the planned investments in the modernisation of the heating industry.”

Miroslav Krpec, CEO of Energotrans, reiterates: “We value our employees; their many years of operational experience are irreplaceable for us, so we were looking for ways to retain as many of these qualified specialists as possible. Employees from the decommissioned Mělník III power plant have been trained in advance for a transition to our heating plants. In this way, we succeeded in securing jobs for a vast majority of our colleagues.” 

The entire Mělník plant provides 300 permanent jobs and more than 1,000 additional temporary jobs.

The existing coal dump for the trio of the Mělník plants will be used to install photovoltaic panels in the future. Energotrans, which operates the heating plants, is also in talks with the Nuclear Research Institute about the option of operating an experimental circuit within the premises with supercritical CO2 for the testing of torque machines.

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