In 2007, EDF began a broad-based programme to upgrade its fossil-fired fleet to meet European regulations and design a natural gas-coal energy mix to meet the needs of the electricity system.
A three-part upgrade programme
Since 2007 a large-scale programmehas been under way to upgrade the French fossil-fired fleet (12% of the country’s installed capacity):
Permanent shutdown of the oldest power plants
Renovation of the existing fleet:
€450 million invested in the most recent coal-fired plants (three 600 MW units) to improve their performance and extend their life span
Construction of new capacity:
Six combustion turbines (CT) commissioned (1,060 MW total capacity)
Three CCGT power plants commissioned since 2011: Blénod in eastern France (430 MW); Martigues near Marseille (2x 465 MW) and Bouchain in northern France, set to begin operating in 2016
The CCGT under construction in Bouchain, developed in partnership with General Electric, is a new-generation CCGT that increases efficiency (575 MW reached in less than 30 minutes, 61% efficiency) and environmental performance (CO2 emissions 10% below those of a conventional CCGT)
Coal-fired power plants: a broad range of options
Under the directive on large combustion plants, EDF decided to shut down 10 coal-fired units between 2013 and 2015 (2,850 MW) at five sites.
Meanwhile, a large-scale programme was carried out to renovate and upgrade the three most recent units (600 MW in Le Havre and 2x 600 MW in Cordemais). Called “Charbon 2035”, the project, representing a €450 million investment, is designed to extend the life span of the facilities until 2035 and to improve their technical, economic and environmental performance.
At the Le Havre site, EDF has also carried out experiments with apilot carbon capture system. Developed in partnership with Alstom and DOW Chemical, the demonstrator investigated the Advanced Amines Process (AAP), a technology specially designed to capture CO2 in the combustion flue gases generated by a coal-fired power plant.
Lastly, high-efficiency coal-fired power plants hold out promising potential for the future of fossil-fired technology. By increasing combustion efficiency, they make it possible to reduce carbon (CO2) emissions, and cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by a factor of 7 and sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions by a factor of more than 10.
Oil-fired power plants: aiming for 2023
Starting in 2016, the new European regulations governing oil-fired power plants lower the limits on atmospheric emissions (NOx, SOx and dust). The oil-fired power plants at Aramon, Cordemais and Porcheville can be operated until 2023 at the latest, with a maximum total number of hours in operation of 17,500. To be able to operate these units until that date, several steps have been taken:
Installation of low-NOx burners at Cordemais 3 and Porcheville B3
Use of a fuel oil with very low sulphur content
Optimisation of the combustion process at four units (BOOS: Burner Out Of Service process)
Lastly, given the lower peak generation requirements, the eight oil-fired units in the fossil-fired fleet will henceforth operate with guaranteed long shut-down periods between April and October. This makes it possible to guarantee availability of these units during the winter months to support the grid if need be during peak demand periods.
Development of a gas-fired fleet
With their lower CO2 emissions and higher efficiency levels, natural gas-fired power plants are coming into increasing use. Construction began on 1,935 MW of combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) capacity between 2011 and 2015:
in Blénod, a 430 MW CCGT began operating in 2011
in Martigues, two CCGT units with a combined capacity of 930 MW began operating in 2012 and 2013
in Bouchain, EDF began building a large-capacity (575 MW) and high efficiency (61%) CCGT in partnership with General Electric. It is scheduled to begin operating in 2016
Lastly, 880 MW of combustion turbine (CT) capacity was installed to round out the fleet between 2008 and 2010. The 1,811 MW fleet using natural gas and/or fuel oil ensures enough electricity can be generated to meet demand at all times.
A promising project: thermodynamic concentrated solar power
Unlike conventional solar power plants, thermodynamic concentrated solar power plants have thermal inertia that limits intermittence.
They can be connected to thermal storage systems lasting several hours and thus continue to operate when no sunlight is available, making generation forecasts more reliable. These thermodynamic concentrated solar plants can easily be combined with fossil fuels.