Vattenfall-owned Moorburg coal-fired power plant is facing an expensive change in its operations after the European Court of Justice ruled that not enough had been done to protect the River Elbe’s fisheries when the facility was initially approved.
A press spokesperson for Vattenfall has told Power Engineering International that while they acknowledged the court ruling, the fish pass provided by the company had been a success in facilitating fish fauna in the region.
The plant located near the northern German city of Hamburg will now have to take on board alternative means of cooling its operations, as the court ruled that fish kills connected to suction of water at the site had threatened endangered species such as salmon in the area.
The company had installed a channel to enable the fish pass through near the plant but Brussels has ruled that this is insufficient.
As a result, Vattenfall will only be able to cool the power plant with the aid of a hybrid cooling tower, which has only been operated on a few days a year for reasons of cost. This happens after a conversion period that will take several weeks. It is only when the environmental authority grants permission to do so that the suction system can be put into operation again.
Germany may have to pay a fine and that there is also a ban on the operation of the suction system on the part of the EU.
The use of a hybrid cooling tower will be expensive. The cooling tower requires more energy, which reduces the efficiency of the power station.
Kristina Hillmer, press officer with Vattenfall told Power Engineering International that Vattenfall was not involved in the court proceedings and
had acknowledged the judgement of the court.
“Now we have to wait for the measures the City of Hamburg will take based on the judgement,” Hillmer said, adding that the judgement would not impede the operation of the power plant.
“No. In addition to the once-though cooling the power plant also has a closed-circuit cooling system. The permit for this type of cooling is final. In case of a year-round cooling of the plant with the cooling tower the production costs of the plant would increase due to higher energy consumption. Moreover, the CO2-emissions per kwh would increase because of the lower degree of efficiency when using the cooling tower.”
“Regarding the assumption in the court proceedings that the fish population would be damaged by the operation of the power plant we refer to the monitoring report for the first operational year according to which only a very low number of the FHH-species deserving special protection were damaged: For example, during the period from 28.02.2015 to 01.03.2016, less than 100 fishes of the protected FFH-species were harmed, while the fish pass has enabled more than 34,000 of these species to reach their spawning and nursery areas.”
“Since 2010, almost two million animals have moved up to higher spawning areas via the fish pass in Geesthacht – the fish fauna of the river Elbe has benefitted considerably from the power plant in Moorburg and the fish pass.”
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