New coal power plant to be built in North Bohemia

E.ON, the largest energy producer in Europe, has just revealed plans to build a new coal-fired power plant in the Czech Republic. In a joint effort with their partner in this operation, the Mostecka Coal Company, they say the plant should be completed by 2013 in an unspecified location somewhere in North Bohemia.

Wulf Bernotat, the chief executive officer of E.ON, Europe's largest energy service provider, announced in Prague on Wednesday that his company is planning to build a new coal-fired power plant in the Czech Republic. To accomplish this, E.ON (which also owns electricity and gas distribution companies in South Bohemia and South Moravia) will work with the Mostecka Coal Company, the owner of three lignite mines in northern Bohemia.

The Mostecka company has been working on the same bases with CEZ, the major Czech electricity producer, but recently their relations have turned sour. CEZ, which also operates the two Czech nuclear power plants, has filed a lawsuit against its coal supplier claiming that Mostecka have not been able to guarantee regular deliveries until 2055. Analysts suggest, however, that at the core of the conflict could have been the fact that CEZ failed to achieve the lifting of the coal mining limits.

Mostecka Coal Company said last month that they would not push to lift lignite mining limits established by the Czechoslovak government back in 1991. The company now owns three mines while only one of them has enough coal to supply the new power plant. When asked about this, an E.ON spokesperson said this is not his company's business as they will only provide technology for the new power plant. It is Mostecka that has to make sure there is enough coal to make the project profitable.

Due to coal mining in northern Bohemia, 32 communities have been destroyed in the region, the last of them being the village of Libkovice that disappeared in 1993. With an extremely powerful new strategic partner, Mostecka might be looking for new ways of getting their way around the mining limits, which could actually mean yet another northern Bohemian town would disappear. With 66 percent of Czechs opposing any lifting of the limits, it will be a difficult task both for the Mostecka Coal Company and E.ON to bring about change and break the mining limits.

The only good news, if any, is that a new power plant could possibly make the major Czech energy producer, CEZ, reconsider their strategy of coal-fired power plants and focus more on some other sources of energy, including the use of renewable sources and biomass. This would certainly help, given the fact that the Czech Republic has the third largest CO2 emissions per capita in Europe, much of it coming precisely from coal-fired power stations.