|Blowing it out|
It can be difficult to imagine what goes on in the power station in Gelsenkirchen-Scholven, given the relaxed atmosphere that prevails inside the complex. Here in “Friedrich”, located in Germany’s Ruhr region, incredible forces of energy create enormous temperatures and drive what is one of Europe’s largest coal-fuelled power stations.
This power station is owned by Atlas Copco Gas and Process’ customer E.ON Kraftwerke GmhH, itself a part of the E.ON Group. “Friedrich” is the affectionate nickname that the 450 employees here have given Block F, one of six blocks at Scholven, and the largest with an output of 676 megawatts.
Scholven, in addition to being E.ON’s largest power station, is also Germany’s biggest coal powered plant. Up to 20,000 tons of coal are burnt at the 76 hectare facility daily, half of which is imported from outside Germany.
Several diggers haul the masses of coal around, and huge mountains of the black fuel sit in front of each block, ready to be ground and then burnt. The entire facility spans across 76 hectares, and its imposing scenery has served as the setting for several TV and movie productions in the past.
Founded in 1908, Scholven originally supplied power to the local mine, but with the dwindling role of coal mining in the region, it later emerged as Germany’s largest hard coal powered plant. The first block (“B”) went into operation in 1968, with the rest following later.
At its current annual production rate of 15,000 gigawatts hours of electricity, Scholven shoulders 3% of Germany’s power demand.
Close to Power Customers
The power plant’s location is key to its success, according to Johannes Sieber, a member of the technical support team.
“We are near our key customers for power (the utility company RWE) and the customers who purchase our by-products,” he says.
Profile of Scholven Project
- Scholven is one of Europe‘s largest coal-fuel driven power stations. To comply with tighter environmental regulations for denitrification and desulphurization, E.ON employs a four-stage Atlas Copco air compressor (flow volume: 43,000 m3/h, outlet pressure:7.5 bar).
The machine helps transport "flue ash“ across the premise through pipes. The
flue ash is eventually re-used in the construction industry.
In the wake of stricter environmental guidelines for emissions, E.ON have had to employ sophisticated means to realize denitrification and desulphurisation, as well as having to deal with the abundance of by-products created by power generation.
This is one area where Atlas Copco compressors are used. Flue ash, for example, is a by-product that is used as a cement substitute in concrete. Compressed air is used to blow the flue ash through pipes across the station, from the boiler tower, to the desulphurization plant, all the way to the storage silos.
To do this, the company operates an Atlas Copco compressor, a four-stage GT063 which was installed in 2002. Since the closure of the mine in 2009, and the retirement of the mine’s two older compressors, the Atlas Copco compressor has handled the entire compressed air supply in Scholven.
Providing a maximum throughout of 43,000 m³/h, the machine has been in operation for about 10,000 hours so far. The compressor has excelled in this task, according to Sieber.
“These days, we regularly use the machine for testing purposes to check whether the entire power station is stable,” he says. “And when put to the test, this compressor has always run smoothly and reliably.”
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