The As Pontes coal-fired power plant is located in the Galicia region of Spain. Image courtesy of Endesa S.A.
The As Pontes power plant has been producing since 1976. Image courtesy of Endesa S.A.
The As Pontes lignite mine adjoining the plant has been converted into a lake. Image courtesy of Endesa S.A.


The 1.4GW As Pontes thermal power plant located in A Coruna, Galicia, is the biggest coal-fired power station in Spain. Owned and operated by Endesa, the power plant has been in operation since 1976.

In March 2018, Endesa started a £175m (€200m) investment programme for emission control retrofits at the plant in order to operate the facility until 2035 in compliance with the European Union’s (EU’s) stricter emissions regulations.

In September 2019, the company, however, announced its intention to close the plant as early as 2022, foreseeing poor profitability due to the increasing EU carbon emissions price that more than tripled from £7m (€8m) a tonne at the beginning of 2018 to £22m (€18m) a tonne in the second half of 2019.

Location and site details

The As Pontes thermal power plant is located in the municipality of As Pontes de García Rodríguez, approximately 70km away from the coastal city A Coruna by road.

Water required for the plant’s operations is supplied from the nearby Eume River, while the imported coal is transported from the Ferrol Port, which is also located in the A Coruna province.

As Pontes was originally operated as a mine-mouth power generation facility that sourced more than 260 million tonnes (Mt) of lignite from the nearby As Pontes coal mine.

The mine was closed in 2007 and converted into a lake that covers 865ha.

An 800MW gas-fired combined-cycle power plant was also commissioned near the existing coal-fired power plant site in 2008. The gas for the plant is supplied through a pipeline from Reganosa’s LNG terminal in Ferrol port.

As Pontes thermal power plant make-up

The As Pontes thermal power plant comprises four 350MW coal-fired units commissioned between 1976 and 1979.

Each unit consists of a natural circulation boiler supplied by Foster Wheeler and a 3,000rpm steam turbine from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

The power station is also developed with four natural draft cooling towers and a 356.5m-high chimney, which is considered to be one of the tallest flue stacks in Europe.

The electricity generated by the plant is evacuated to the national grid via a 400kV switchyard.

Retrofits and upgrades at the As Pontes power plant

The As Pontes thermal power plant was upgraded to use mixed-fuel of imported coal and lignite between 1993 and 1996. The plant again underwent revamping, between 2005 and 2008, to run exclusively on imported coal.

The £175m (€200m) environmental upgrade announced in March 2018 includes the installation of selective catalytic reaction (SCR) denitrification and wet limestone-based flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) systems to control nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO₂) emissions from the plant.

The latest investment for the environmental retrofit at the plant was initiated in line with the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which was adopted by the European Union (EU) in 2010 to control industrial emissions including air pollution, water pollution, and discharge of other waste.

Contractors involved

INITEC Energía provided engineering, construction supervision, and start-up services for all the four units of the As Pontes coal-fired power plant.

Foster Wheeler, in consortium with Duro Felguera (DF), was engaged for phased upgrade of all the four boilers of the plant to burn only imported coal, under a £97m ($152m) contract awarded in July 2003.

TOTEMA Engineering was subcontracted for the design and commissioning of the mills and the pulverising burner systems, as well as for the modifications of the bottom ash silo.

Zima Corporation was engaged to provide mechanical maintenance services for different components of the plant including the fuel preparation system, carbon and ash system, as well as the auxiliary turbine system and the boiler system.

VisionTIR, a thermography systems manufacturer based in Spain, provided thermographic vision system for continuous temperature monitoring of the boilers at the plant.

A joint-venture of General Electric and IMASA was awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the SCR denitrification system at the plant.

Valcon International, a company based in the Czech Republic, was engaged for supplying the logic and control systems for the new FGD units at the As Pontes thermal power station.