The Opole power plant located approximately 100km away from Katowice, Poland, underwent a major expansion to add two 900MW ultra-supercritical (USC) generating units in 2019.
Named Opole II, the £2.3bn ($3.6bn) expansion project represented Poland’s biggest energy infrastructure investment since 1989, while making Opole the third largest power plant in Poland.
PGE Elektrownia Opole, a subsidiary of state-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), owns and operates the Opole power plant.
In production since 1993, the plant had a previous generation capacity of 1,532MW, which was increased to 3,332MW with the addition of two new coal-fired units five and six in 2019.
The two new units are together expected to generate 12.5TWh of electricity a year, which will be enough to power four million Polish households.
Construction on the expansion project started in February 2014. The expanded power station accounts for approximately8% of the country’s total installed capacity.
Opole II project development history
PGE Elektrownia Opole called for tenders for the construction of units five and six in December 2009 and received preliminary offers from potential contractors in September 2010.
The general contractor agreement for the expansion project was signed with a consortium of three companies in February 2012.
The project was approved for construction in January 2014.
Opole power plant units five and six details
The units five and six were commissioned in May 2019 and September 2019 respectively.
Each new generating unit of the Opole power plant is equipped with an ultra-supercritical boiler and a steam turbine generator supplied by GE. Each boiler has a height of approximately 125m.
The units five and six use a closed cooling system consisting of 185m-high cooling towers.
Fitted with GE’s advanced ultra-supercritical technology, the two new units will be able to obtain a net energy efficiency of 46% and emit 20% lesser CO2 compared to conventional coal-fired power plants.
The units can be adapted for the installation of CO2 capture facilities in the future.
The new units are also equipped with all necessary emission control mechanisms to comply with the European Union’s (EU) stringent emissions regulation for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
The estimated operational life of each new unit is 35 years.
Coal supply for Opole II power plant
The 1,800MW Opole II will require approximately 4.1 million tons (Mt) of hard coal a year, which were to be supplied by Kompania Weglowa under a long-term agreement signed in June 2013.
State-owned Polska Grupa Górnicza took control of the bankrupt Kompania Weglowa, the largest coal mining company in Poland, in 2016.
Power transmission from the Opole power plant
PGE Elektrownia Opole signed an agreement with state-owned transmission system operator Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne (PSE) for connecting the new units of the power plant with the Polish national grid, in March 2010.
The electricity generated from the units is transmitted first to the existing 400kV distribution substation at Dobrzeń and further via a single-circuit 400kV line connecting Pasikurowice and a double-circuit 400kV line connecting Wrocław.
The transmission infrastructure for the new power generating units included total 3,000km of power cable and upgrade of the Dobrzeń distribution substation with a new transformer unit and feeder bays.
Insurers for the Opole power plant expansion
The Opole II expansion project is underwritten by a group of four European insurers including Europe’s biggest insurer Allianz, Italy’s Generali, Germany’s Munich Re, and Polish insurer PZU.
Contractors involved with Opole power plant expansion
The engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the two new generation units at Opole power plant was awarded to a consortium of Rafako, Polimex-Mostostal, and Mostostal Warszawa in February 2012.
Alstom (now GE Power) was subcontracted by the EPC consortium for the USC technology along with major equipment for the new generating units in January 2014.
As part of the subcontract valued approximately £1.06bn ($1.25bn), GE provided its efficient USC technology along with the boilers, turbines, generators, air quality control systems as well as the balance of plant for units five and six of the Opole power plant.
The new turbines and generators were designed and manufactured at GE Power’s factories at Elbląg and Wroclaw in Poland. GE was also responsible for overall project management.
GE subcontracted Finow Rohrsysteme for the pre-fabrication of external high-pressure piping systems for the new units.
GEDA provided lift solutions during the construction of cooling towers for the new plant.
ABB was selected for the supply, installation and commissioning of seven single-phase transformers, four three-phase multi-tap transformers, and two three-phase back-up transformers in September 2015.
Opole I power plant make-up
Built on a 290ha site, the pre-existing Opole power plant comprises four operational units, with a combined installed capacity of 1,492MW, including one 376MW, two 373MW units, and one 370MW commissioned between 1993 and 1997.
The plant is equipped with four once-through BP-1150 boilers from Rafako.
The power station achieved 1,532MW generating capacity following upgrade and modernisation of the existing units.