Sostanj power station

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Sostanj power station is a lignite-fired power station in Savinjska, Slovenia, owned by Termoelektrarna Sostanj. It consists of two coal-burning units totaling 945 MW, as well as two 42 MW gas-fired units.

Location

The undated satellite photo below shows the power station near Velenje in north-east Slovenia.

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Background

The existing power station comprises the following operating and retired generating units, which are referred to as:[1]

  • Block 1 and Block 2, both 25 megawatt generating units, closed in 2010 and 2008 respectively;
  • Block 3, a 75 megawatt unit commissioned in 1960, closed in 2014[2];
  • Block 4, a 275 megawatt unit commissioned in 1972[2], and closed in July 2018[3];
  • Block 5, a 345 megawatt unit commissioned in 1977 and nominally scheduled to run until 2027;
  • Block 6, a 600 megawatt unit commissioned in 2015[2];
  • PT 51, a 42 megawatt gas-fired unit commissioned in 2008 and nominally scheduled to run until 2027; and
  • PT 52, a 42 megawatt gas-fired unit commissioned in 2008 and nominally scheduled to run until 2027.

Sostanj is the largest thermal power plant in Slovenia and produces electricity and heat using fuel from the Velenje lignite coal mine. In 2012 the Sostanj Power Station generated on average one-third of the electricity in Slovenia.[4]

Block 6

A new 600 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station (Unit 6) was proposed to "replace obsolete facilities" at the existing plant.[5] The project would replace the power plant’s existing units 3-4 and possibly 5.[6]

Unit 6 was synchronized in 2014,[7] and planned for operation in April 2015. Block 6 will replace unit 3 after going online. The 275MW unit 4 will be decommissioned in December 2015, while the 345MW unit 5 will stay online until the end of 2027.[2]

Cost and funding for Block 6

Since initial project proposal, costs have risen from EUR 700-900 million to EUR 1.2 billion. Permits will also need to be purchased by Slovenia as part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.[6]

The project received permissions from the Slovenian authorities and has secured financing of 250 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and 550 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB).[6]

Corruption allegations

In July 2012 the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) decided to start an official investigation into the Sostanj plant due to charges of corruption (bribery and money laundering) and conflicts of interests in the granting of the contract to the company Alstom.[6]

In October 2014 Slovenian police charged 10 people associated with the project of defrauding electricity consumers of an estimated €284 million (US$333 million).[8]

In May 2018, leaked details of a Slovenian police investigation into Alstom’s €1.4 billion (US$1.6 billion) 600 MW expansion of the Sostanj plant found that it was €500 million (US$586 million) more expensive than equivalent plants the company built elsewhere (the expansion was originally estimated to cost €700 million, or US$820 million). A Slovenian TV station alleges that documents obtained as part of the investigation indicate Alstom allocated €3 million (US$3.5 million) for kickbacks associated with the project.[8]

Coal supply

The power station consumes "between 3.5 and 4.2 million tonnes" of lignite a year, approximately 90% of all the coal produced in the country. Coal for the power station is sourced from the nearby Velenje mine.

Carbon emissions

Operating the station will result in emissions of 3.4 mega tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to almost all of Slovenia’s allowable emissions in 2050.[6]

Project Details for Unit 6

Groups campaigning against the proposed expansion

Articles and resources

References

  1. Termoelektrarna Sostanj, "TEŠ – an important pillar of Slovene energy", Termoelektrarna Sostanj website, accessed April 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Giant unit will lower Slovenia electricity prices from mid-April – traders," ICIS, 17 February 2015
  3. "Block 4 ceases operating after 46 years", HSE website, July 6, 2018.
  4. Termoelektrarna Sostanj, "Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant", Termoelektrarna Sostanj website, accessed October 2012.
  5. "Coal-Fired Plants Financed by International Public Investment Institutions Since 1994", Appendix to Foreclosing the Future: Coal, Climate and International Public Finance: Investment in coal-fired power plants hinders the fight against global warming, Environmental Defense, April 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Sostanj lignite thermal power plant unit 6, Slovenia," Bankwatch, accessed Oct. 2012.
  7. "Alstom brings Unit 6 of Šoštanj power plant to full load," Alstom, 03/11/2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Corruption Investigation Finds Overpayment of €500m for TEŠ6 Power," STA, May 30, 2018
  9. "Alstom gets certificate for Slovenia's Sostanj TPP Unit 6," See News July 30, 2015

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