Nordjyllandsværket – one of the world’s most efficient coal-fired power plants
Nordjylland Power Station (Nordjyllandsværket) is a combined heat and power (CHP) plant and is located close to Aalborg in northern Jutland, Denmark. The power station produces electricity and district heating in two separate plants, Unit 2 and Unit 3. Unit 3 is the primary unit and is known as the world’s most efficient coal-fired power station. It holds a world record for efficient coal utilisation from 1998. Up to as much as 91% of the energy content of the coal is utilised. The high fuel utilisation efficiency means that less coal is needed to produce the same amount of electricity and heat – therefore producing less waste and less pollution.
The history of Nordjylland Power Station began in 1895, in central Aalborg, where some enterprising business people established a private power station. ‘The light station’ – as the station was popularly called – chiefly supplied electricity to local tradespeople. With a 20% to 25% increase in the number of customers each year, the power station became a success. However, this influx of new customers made the downtown location impractical. The local authority therefore considered building a power station outside the city. The new municipal power station, called Aalborg Kommunale Elværk, was ready for commissioning in 1909.
In the early 1960s the municipal utility was converted into a partnership named Nordkraft. But the nearby residents wanted their own power company. This desire resulted in the establishment of the Northern Jutland Electricity Supply (NEFO), which commissioned its first plant in 1967. Both NEFO and Nordkraft enjoyed strong growth and built new facilities over the following years.
As the European electricity markets were liberalised in the 1990s, mergers became a common tool for Danish power suppliers. In light of this, and to accomplish the task of building a new power station in northern Jutland, NEFO and Nordkraft merged to form Nordjylland Power Station in 1995. The wave of mergers continued and Vattenfall finally acquired the power station on 1 July 2006.
Nordjylland Power Station, as it is known today, consists of two units: Unit 2 was commissioned in 1977 (and is today mainly used during peak-load periods) and Unit 3 was commissioned in 1998. Much has happened during the 22 years between the commissioning of Units 2 and 3. Using roughly the same quantity of coal, electricity generation and, in particular, district heating capacity have improved radically.
Environmental and economic benefits/characteristics
The two units at the plant are run with a constant environmental focus. Compared with older generating facilities, Unit 3 produces much more electricity and district heating using the same amount of fuel. And the more efficiently every tonne of coal is utilised, the less carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted, which also lowers the production costs. Through creative use of by-products, the plant is part of an industrial symbiosis, which has both environmental and economic advantages. Examples of this are:
- Unit 3 removes NOx, fly ash and sulphur from the flue gas.
- The fly ash is utilised in the cement and concrete industry, and the sulphur is turned into gypsum that is used for industrial purposes, thus reducing imports of natural gypsum.
- One of the by-products from this type of treatment is almost 100% pure sulphuric acid that is used in the fertilising industry.
Modernisations and innovation technology
Nordjylland Power Station is investigating the possibility of co-combustion of coal and biomass fuel (wood chips). The power plant is also being considered as a possible early commercial plant for incorporating Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology.