Nuon (Vattenfall), has decided to further postpone the investment decision on the coal (plus biomass) gasification phase of its new Magnum power plant under construction at Eemshaven in the Netherlands. The first phase, a 3×400 MWe natural gas fired combined cycle plant, is expected to enter operation in 2012.

The plant was originally intended to be an IGCC facility from the outset, but a two phase approach, with delay of the gasification element, was adopted in 2008 because of cost escalation worries.

Nuon says “commercial reasons, such as the trend in raw material prices”, have played a significant role in further postponing the investment decision on the IGCC, which have included CCS.

Another factor is the “long-running constructive dialogue with nature and environmental organisations, among others.” Nuon says it has been in discussion with these parties for some time and has entered into an agreement with them that states that it will not bring the gasification part of the power plant on stream before 2020. Other important elements of the agreement relate specifically to CO2 emissions. Once the gasification part is ready, these emissions will not exceed 360g/kWh (equivalent to the emissions from a modern gas-fired power plant). The environmental parties involved are at the same time withdrawing their legal objections to the gas-fired power station currently under construction.

Recent discussions about CO2 capture and storage have shown that there is “currently insufficient support for this technology, in particular for onshore storage”, says Nuon. In fact onshore CO2 disposal has recently been banned in the Netherlands following serious public acceptance problems withShell’s proposed Barendrecht project.

The Magnum IGCC+CCS project was an applicant for funding under the EU NER300 funding scheme (see MPS, April 2011) but the postponement would appear to disqualify it as projects must be in operation within four years of the award decision, currently scheduled for late 2012. This means that all the remaining pre-combustion NER300 contenders are UK based.