Belchatow power plant is the biggest lignite-fired thermal power plant in Europe. Image courtesy of Phil MacDonald.
Belchatow power plant is also the most polluting power plant in Europe. Image courtesy of Morgre.
The Belchatow power plant has a gross generation capacity of 5,298MW. Image courtesy of Flickr.

The 5,298MW Belchatow power plant located in Poland is the biggest coal-fired power plant in Europe. Operational since 1988, the plant is owned and operated by PGE Elektrownia Belchatow (PGE), a subsidiary of state-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE).

Encompassing 13 lignite-fired power generating units, the power station generates 32.3TWh of electricity a year, accounting for approximately 20% of Poland’s total power generation capacity.

Belchatow also emits more than 30 million tonnes of CO2 a year, which makes it the biggest polluting power plant in Europe.

Belchatow power plant make-up

The Belchatow power station was originally commissioned with 12 power units of 360MW each between 1982 and 1988. The units were subsequently retrofitted and upgraded in different phases to increase efficiency and extend operational life. The gross capacity of the units is between 370MW and 394MW currently.

A supercritical unit of 858MW was commissioned in 2012, increasing the total number of units to 13.

Each of the units 1-12 is equipped with a BB-1150 boiler from Rafako, a 18K360 turbine from Zamech, and a GTHW-360 generator from Dolmel Wroclaw. Each unit provides a net thermal efficiency of 38%.

The unit 13 utilizes a BB-2400 boiler from Rafako, which is capable of operating at 554°C temperature and 25.9MPa pressure and provides a net thermal efficiency of 42%. The turbine and generator for the unit 13 were supplied by GE.

The boiler height for units 1-12 is 108m, while that for unit-13 is 153m.

The cooling towers of units 1-12 are 132m-tall and 115m in diameter, whereas that of unit-13 is 180m-tall and 120m in diameter.

Coal supply for Belchatow power plant

Belchatow power station consumes more than 42Mt of coal a year, which is sourced from PGE’s Belchatow coal mine near the power plant site.

Belchatow coal mine is estimated to hold 1,930 million tonnes (Mt) of lignite coal reserves, makes it Europe’s biggest brown coal mine.

Contractors involved

Alstom carried out retrofits and upgrades of the initial 12 generating units of the plant under different contract packages starting from 1997.

Emerson was engaged for modernizing the instrumentation, control, and electrical systems of the units.

Babcock Borsig Service was contracted for the supply of flue gas displacement system for units 5 and 6 in 2009.

Alstom was awarded the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract for the unit 13.

SGS provided technical consultancy services for the construction of the unit 13, while ME Construct was engaged in the construction of the unit.

Carbon capture initiative at the Belchatow thermal power plant

PGE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Alstom in December 2008 for the design and construction of a pilot carbon capture plant (CCP) at the latest unit of the plant.

PGE signed a grant agreement of €180m ($245m) for the installation of carbon capture, transport, and geological storage facilities in May 2010.

The project was expected to be completed by 2015, but canceled in 2013 following environmental opposition to underground storage of carbon.

If completed, it would have captured 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 a year.