France’s state-controlled energy major Électricité de France is to invest around €1.8 billion to build a 900 MW coal-fired power plant in Rybnik, southern Poland.

The project entails replacing the four oldest of the plant’s eight power units with a single, more efficient one. EDF, which holds a controlling stake in the plant, intends to base the new plant on supercritical technology, which is more thermally effcient but also allows the selection of combinations of fuel without sacrificing efficiency, thereby potentially producing significantly lower carbon emissions. French engineering group Alstom will supply the unit’s boiler island and turbine hall. Construction on the project will take six years, although the start date is not yet known.

EDF has stated that the investment is part of a strategy to help reinforce its position in Central Europe. It will fund the project using its own cash, sourced from within the group. By 2020, the company wants to bring its total installed power generation capacity in Central Europe to 200 GW, 25 percent of which it aims to source from fossil fuels.

EDF is making the investment to capitalise on expected growth in demand for energy of 3 percent per year in Poland, and on new environmental directives that require the oldest production units to be shut down from 2016, thus reducing supply.