Uniper produces and supplies electric power, heat and gas to industrial clients in Belgium and the Netherlands. Among other locations, Uniper does this at its Maasvlakte Power Plant 3 (MPP3) in the port of Rotterdam. From 2019 on, this power station will be co-firing biomass to a maximum of 30%. Uniper’s Public Affairs Manager Edwin Kotylak: “Uniper has years of experience in co-firing a variety of biomass types. As of next year, we will also be co-firing biomass in MPP3, according to the most stringent (sustainability) criteria in the world. As such, we are realising a cornerstone in the Energy Agreement, as well as boosting the development of the biobased economy on Maasvlakte.”
Uniper Benelux aims at investments in reliable and affordable electricity production and at the same time time reducing the environmental impact of its coal-fired plants. The company’s new MPP3 power station presently runs on pulverised coal and meat and bone meal. However, after the completion of its conversion by late 2018/early 2019, the plant will also be able to co-fire biomass. The Port Authority will construct the required nautical facilities in the Europahaven to safely unload the biomass for the plant. The biomass will be handled by stevedore EBS. The biomass sourced by the Uniper plant consists of certified wood pellets from a range of countries as well as Dutch meat and bone meal. Application of the latest technologies means that the volumes of airborne particulates by the plant will reduced to almost zero. Activities in the area are subject to exceptionally strict emission standards, which are enforced by the Rijnmond Environmental Protection Agency (DCMR).
Biobased cluster on Maasvlakte
Uniper’s MPP3 is located on Maasvlakte, surrounded by industrial activities and in close proximity to Maasvlakte 2, where the Port of Rotterdam Authority is developing a new biobased cluster. It has reserved a 40-ha site for innovative chemical companies that work with renewable feedstock. The Port Authority and specialised utilities can provide the required industrial facilities like power supply, energy networks, tank storage for dry and liquid bulk, process, waste and drinking water and road and rail infrastructure. The presence of these basic facilities and infrastructure on Maasvlakte serve a a quick start for new industry in Rotterdam. This reduces initial investment costs by as much as 20%.
Circular system hub
Uniper presents its MPP3 location as a circular system hub. Companies located in Rotterdam’s industrial cluster can make use of each other’s residual heat, residual materials and semi-manufactures in a setting also known as co-siting. This allows them to reduce their emissions and simultaneously increase efficiency. The MPP3 plant is a key link in this industrial partnership chain. The plant supplies power, cooling water and heat (steam) to nearby businesses. Moreover, low-temperature residual heat from the plant’s cooling water is used to vaporise liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Gate terminal.
In return, the plant is provided by its neighbours (the Neste biofuels plant and the chemical company Lyondell) with residuals that are used in the MPP3 as biomass for power generation.
What makes Rotterdam an ideal location for the Uniper plant? Kotylak: “The port of Rotterdam is perfectly situated, offering deep port basins that ensure that Uniper can be reached by even the very largest ships. Add excellent network connections, sufficient cooling water and infrastructure linking the site to the hinterland, and you get MPP3, Europe’s most efficient coal power plant. In addition, we work closely together with neighbouring companies, local industry and the port. In this way we are able to safely convert residuals from companies in the area – heavies and biopropane – into power. We are paving the way for new biomass applications. So that together, we can further cut back our greenhouse gas emissions.”
In addition Uniper is already looking further into the future, in part due to the Dutch government’s decision o exclude its SDE funding* for biomass co-firing after 2026. Kotylak: “Uniper’s plans for the future depend in part on political developments. We are examining together with our partners in the port which other sustainable fuels could be used in our plant. In addition to biomass, we could consider bio-residuals like lignin, which is extracted from wood in a bio-refinery proces. We will constantly adapt our systemic role to the developments in this field.”
**SDE funding: the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy uses the ‘subsidie Stimulering Duurzame Energieproductie’ (‘Sustainable Energy Production Incentive Grant’) to encourage companies, non-profits and other organisations to develop a sustainable power supply network in the Netherlands.
Largest turbine in the world
- Can be strictly fine-tuned, meaning that production can be scaled up or down at short notice (55 MW per minute)
- Supplies steam, heat and cooling water to nearby companies
- Reduction in CO2 emissions compared to average coal-fired power plant = 25%
- Balances grid voltage at Tennet’s request in response to increased share of power supply from wind
- Uses swift adjustability to guarantee supply security in the absence of sufficient power from unpredictable sources like solar and wind
Energy in transition
The Port of Rotterdam Authority is committed to combating climate change and wants to play a leading role in the global energy transition. The reduction of CO2 emissions and efficient use of raw and residual materials are important tasks for the Port Authority.