Essent has achieved a significant milestone at two new power plants in the Netherlands with the successful first firing of the plants’ gas turbines.

The Dutch utility has announced that first firing at both the Moerdijk 2 and Claus C combined cycle power plants “went well”. The plants are due to enter commercial operation in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

According to Essent, both plants underwent a limited pre-test earlier this year where their gas turbines were put briefly into operation. The new unit at Moerdijk is being built by GE, while Alstom is building the Claus C plant.

Claus C will be the largest power plant in the Netherlands when complete. Alstom is currently expanding and modernising the ‘B’ unit at the Claus complex in Maasbracht into a 1920 MW ‘C’ unit.

The conversion will improve the unit’s efficiency from 39 to 58.5 per cent, and lead to a 40 per cent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.