Endesa launches the revamping of the As Pontes plant to reduce emissions by up to 80%

Published on Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Today, Endesa officially launched the revamping of its Thermal Power Unit (TPU) in As Pontes, A Coruña, in the presence of the President of the Galician Autonomous Government, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, and the company Chairman, Borja Prado. This project entails an investment of over EUR 200 million, and will result in a highly environmentally-efficient coal-fired power plant by reducing emissions of sulphur dioxide by 71%, nitrogen oxide by 62.5% and particulates by 80%.

The As Pontes thermal power plant is the largest of its kind in Spain. It has four 1,469-megawatt (MW) units, which generated 8,366 gigawatt hours (GWh) last year. It provides 700 direct jobs and, under normal operating conditions, results in Endesa adding EUR 80 million to the local economy through purchases of goods and services and through wage payments.

Alberto Núñez Feijóo toured the plant with Borja Prado to learn in detail about the revamping that is now under way. They were accompanied by the Mayor of As Pontes and President of the Coruña Provincial Government, Valentín González Formoso, the Regional Minister of Finance, Francisco Conde, and Endesa executives, Manuel Morán, Director of Generation, José Luis Puche, Media Director, Miguel Temboury, Territorial Director, and Marcello Rinaldi, Director of the Thermal Power Unit.

The aim of revamping the facility is to denitrify and remove sulphur from combustion gases in order to minimise the environmental effects of the plant's activity. Once the work is complete, the plant will not only meet the requirements of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), but also the even more stringent BREF values, the European reference values on the Best Available Techniques for the different industrial sectors.

To implement the entire project, Endesa estimates that some one thousand people from outside the company will perform work at the plant before the transformed facility enters into operation in mid-2020. Four main companies and between fifty and eighty subcontractors will be involved.

At a speech given before Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the Chairman of Endesa thanked the Administration for streamlining the approval procedures for the project, which is to be completed in 2020. He also stressed that Galicia - where there is a total installed power of 3,236 MW - “is crucial to our company” and that “we are committed to contributing to the development and improvement of the quality of life of the people here”.

Borja Prado also highlighted that, despite the significant financial and technological efforts that Endesa is about to invest in its As Pontes TPU, an increase in output is not expected, given that the project is not focused on generating greater output, but rather on becoming more environmentally efficient.

In turn, the President of the Galician Autonomous Government highlighted “the Galician government’s commitment to an industry that is energy efficient, environmentally friendly and at the forefront of the sector in Spain”. Alberto Núñez Feijóo stressed that the transformation of the As Pontes complex represents a “three-fold commitment”: to the environment, “because the construction of two new plants for the elimination of gases generated by burning coal will reduce emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere in accordance with the European Directive”, to Galicia, “given that, with this revamping work, the plant bolsters its viability and strategic importance”, and to employment in Ferrolterra, through the local companies involved in the work and through the workforce at Endesa.

The first step in the transformation work to adapt the As Pontes TPU to the Industrial Emissions Directive consists in installing a combustion gas denitrification system (SNCR) in each of the four units at the plant. The second step is to set up equipment that removes sulphur from combustion gases through processes entailing the use of limestone as an alkaline sorbent to capture sulphur dioxide (SO2) and turn it into a solid. .

The desulphurisation facilities consist of two units that will serve all four generator sets. The main feature of the system is the absorber, where the combustion gases arrive after flowing through the ash removal equipment. Each desulphurisation plant is composed of a vertical counter-current spray tower that is more than 30 metres high. For normal operation, up to 25,000 tonnes of limestone per year will be required, and approximately 30,000 tonnes of gypsum will be produced.

The new facilities will be built within the site currently occupied by the As Pontes TPU. However, one stretch of the regional road that provides access to the plant and to the town of As Pontes will need to be diverted, meaning that Endesa will gain 14,000 square metres at this location, but will give up an equivalent area in another location for a new road to be built at the company’s expense.

It was also necessary to relocate the car park for employees, so that the space it occupied can be used for the desulphurisation plants. Upgrades will be made in the parking area, with electric vehicle recharging points, and solar panels are also expected to be installed on the roofs of the vehicle car park.

The revamping of the As Pontes TPU represents one of Endesa’s contributions to the decarbonisation process led by the European energy industry, given that it offers a renewed, highly environmentally-efficient, thermal power plant that will bolster the national grid in light of the unpredictable nature of renewable energy. In this sense, the company is progressing in its efforts to increase its wind capacity, which produced a total of 447 MW in Galicia by the end of 2017. So far this year, Endesa has increased this type of power with three new wind farms within Galicia, for an additional 57.5 MW. The upward trend in harnessing wind power will be consolidated by 2020, since the company has another four projects in preparation, for a total of 92 MW, which have been declared of “special interest” by the Galician government, meaning that some of them will be built very soon.