Dirtiest 30 Power Plants Spew 10 Percent of Europe's Carbon

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 11, 2007 (ENS) - The 30 dirtiest power stations in Europe were responsible for 10 percent of all European Union emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in 2006, finds a new analysis issued Thursday by the global conservation group WWF.

The title of dirtiest power stations goes to Greece's Agios Dimitrios and Kardia, owned by DEH, the Public Power Corporation of Greece. They are immediately followed by Niederaussem in Germany, owned by RWE.

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Green's Agios Dimitrios power station emits more carbon dioxide than any other power facility in Europe. The largest power plant in Greece, it is located in the heart of the Western Macedonia lignite fields.(Photo courtesy Public Power Corp.)
Most of the "Dirty Thirty" are located in Germany and the UK, which have 10 plants each, followed by Poland with four plants.

Four companies account for most of Europe's dirtiest 30 power stations. More than half of the 30 plants analyzed are run by RWE of Germany, Vattenfall of Sweden, EDF of France, and EON of Germany.

The WWF ranking of the "Dirty Thirty" results from the analysis of 2006 data included in the European Emissions Registry, managed by the European Commission.

WWF analysts looked at the absolute carbon dioxide, CO2, emissions of power stations in EU countries calculated in million metric tons of CO2 per year. Analysts ranked the 30 biggest emitters according to their level of efficiency measured in grams of CO2 per Kilowatt hour.

"The facts are clear: the power sector needs to phase out dirty coal as soon as possible," said Stephan Singer, head of WWF's European Climate and Energy Unit.

"This must be done through an improved EU Emissions Trading System, helping the EU achieve its target of up to 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2020," he said.

Europe's most polluting power stations are all coal-fired, with the worst 10 running on lignite coal, which WWF says is "particularly CO2-intense."

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Poland's Turow power station, located in the southwestern province of Dolnoslaskie, is the country's dirtiest. (Photo courtesy Elektrownia Turow SA)
The report shows the least efficient power stations in Europe with the largest emissions of carbon dioxide. In 2006 the "Dirty Thirty" were responsible for 393 million metric tons of CO2, which is equal to 10 percent of all EU CO2 emissions.

Poland's dirtiest power station is Turow, operated by BOT GiE S.A. and burning lignite. It ranks eighth most polluting on the WWF list.

The worst UK power station is Scottish Power's Longannet facility, which burns hard coal. It ranks in 15th place on the WWF list.

As CO2 emissions are considered the main cause of global warming and devastating climate impacts, it is essential to have a stronger EU Emissions Trading Scheme that delivers significant emissions reductions by encouraging investment in cleaner and more efficient plants, said WWF in a statement accompanying the release of the report.

"We cannot tolerate a power sector where the dirtier get richer," said Singer. "The EU must ensure that only those who clean up their power stations reap monetary rewards."

Some power companies are planning to clean up their coal-fired electricity generation. In the UK, RWE npower today announced it is doing a feasibility study for a new cleaner coal power station on the site of the former Blyth Power Station in the northeast of England.

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The Blyth power station in Northumberland, England could be replaced by a cleaner, high-efficiency facility. (Photo Ian Britton courtesy FreeFoto)
In an environmental scoping document submitted to the UK Department of Trade and Industry today, RWE npower outlines proposals for a new power station consisting of three 800 megawatt, high efficiency, supercritical coal-fired units which would generate enough energy to supply around 3.5 million homes by 2014.

Kevin Akhurst, managing director for generation and renewables said, "The UK needs to maintain a broad mix of energy generation to guarantee secure electricity in the years ahead. Coal is a vital component of this mix."

"Environmental issues are a major consideration," Akhurst said. A modern supercritical coal plant would result in a significant net reduction in CO2 levels, but we are also proposing to make the power station ready for carbon capture and storage technology. There are still many financial, legal, regulatory and technical hurdles to clear but carbon capture and storage is too important to ignore. We're committed to further research and development in this area."

The new station would be extremely efficient, the company said, reducing carbon dioxide by over 22 percent per unit of electricity generated compared to an equivalent sized existing UK coal-fired power station. This would represent a reduction of over three million metric tons of CO2 per year.

The WWF ranking was done by analyzing the information in the Community Independent Transaction Log, where data are collected for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. To see the registry online, click here.

The full report with ranking and tables is here.