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Hard-coal-fired power plant

Westfalen power plant

Facts and figures

Power plant location Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia
Power plant type Hard-coal-fired power plant (unit E)
Commissioned in 2014
Fuel Hard coal
Electrical output (net) 765 MW
Flue gas cleaning Electric filter, flue gas desulphurisation and denitrification plant

History of Westfalen power plant 

Units A and B of the Westfalen power plant in Hamm-Uentrop started generating electricity in 1963. In order to meet the steadily rising demand for electricity, above all in industry, unit C, with a capacity of 305 MW, went on stream in 1969. After more than 40 years of operation and after having generated almost one hundred billion kilowatt hours, units A and B finally went offline in February 2011 – the total generated amount would have been sufficient to supply all private households in North Rhine-Westphalia with electricity for over three years. 

Today, after extensive construction work and with units C and D also decommissioned, only unit E is operational, with a gross output of 800 megawatts. With a net efficiency of 46 per cent, CO2 emissions from the hard-coal-fired power plant have been reduced by 1.3 million tonnes compared to older plants. As an important and effective contribution towards combatting climate change, the power plant is not just equipped with one of the most modern systems for flue gas desulphurisation and NOx control, but is also utilised as a partner for renewables in the medium-load range. 

Since early 2018, the Westfalen plant, and the Gersteinwerk site 20 km away, have been managed from a joint control centre. In this way synergies can be better leveraged and operational processes optimised; the combined cycle natural gas units in Gersteinwerk, for example, can be managed from the Westfalen control room.

Clearly below the legal limits

With highly effective filter and cleaning systems the pollutants sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust are either safely within or clearly below the permitted legal limits. In order to enable the plant's energy to be used for district heat and process steam, a steam extraction system is included in the design of the new unit. 

In this way RWE actively commits to opening up economically and ecologically useful energy potentials in the vicinity of the power plant site. To this end, RWE has invested around 2 billion euros.

Operated with hard coal and petroleum coke

The new plant is operated with imported hard coal and, subject to availability, with petroleum coke. Petroleum coke is a carbon-rich by-product from the mineral oil industry, which has been used in power plants for decades due to its high calorific value. Currently, the plant is operated in the medium-load range and can respond very flexibly to fluctuations in the electricity grid.

High efficiency

Due to the high steam parameters and thermodynamic optimisation of the water-steam process, a net efficiency of approximately 46% can be achieved. This high level of efficiency results in the reduction of specific CO2 emissions by around 20% compared to the previous average of German hard-coal-fired power plants. Optimised processes also keep the volume of water taken from and discharged back into the River Lippe to a minimum. Repeatedly using flows of water also contributes to this reduction in water use.

New plant is integrated

The new plant is designed in such a way that it is completely integrated into the existing power plant site and no additional land outside the power plant perimeter was needed. In addition to constructing the unit, existing units and systems continue to be used and are adapted according to the requirements of the new hard-coal unit.

Excellent connection to transport infrastructure

The site is well connected to the transport infrastructure in the region. The fuel is mainly shipped in via the Datteln-Hamm Canal. From there it is brought to the steam generator's coal bunkers on a belt. Alternatively, the plant can be supplied via the rail network. 

In addition to its own port at the end of the Datteln-Hamm Canal, the power plant is connected to the rail network of Ruhr-Lippe-Eisenbahngesellschaft, which, in turn, is connected to the national rail network via Hamm station. The power plant is also located close to the A2 motorway and thus to the extensive German road network.

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