Spanish energy firm Endesa has announced that its thermal plant in As Pontes has been connected to the electricity grid.

At As Pontes, Endesa is carrying out a program to extend the life of its coal-fired thermal plant, which was built in the 70s and upgraded in the 90s. It is the largest thermal power production unit in Spain, with installed capacity of 1,400MW, enough to cover around 5% of Spain’s power electricity demand.

This is the third of the plant’s four production units to be reformed. The entire transformation requires an investment of E275 million. The funds will go not only to As Pontes, but also to build a new port terminal in Ferrol. The city’s outside dock will receive the five million tons of Indonesian coal consumed by the plant, which is then shipped by road.

The transformation consists of adapting the thermal plant so that it uses only imported coal instead of a mixture of local lignite and sub-bituminous coal. To do so, many parts of the boiler and the turbine are replaced and a general upgrade of the plant is carried out.

As a result of the program there will be a substantial reduction in gas emissions into the atmosphere, reducing CO2 emissions by more than one million tons per year. It will also lower emissions of SO2 by 95.5%, NOx by 16.5% and particles by 54.5%. Moreover, the unavailability index will improve, while operating and maintenance costs will fall.

The upgrade undertaken by Endesa at As Pontes is a tailor-made solution, adapted to the particularities of the plant. Despite difficulties the process entails, the experience built up with the transformation of the first two groups has enabled the company to reduce the amount of time allotted for the work by 10 days. In all, the operation requires around 750,000 man hours, with up to a thousand external workers taking part in certain stages.