This power plant is, with that of Cordemais in Loire-Atlantique, one of the last two coal-fired power plants still in operation in France.
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A page is turning in Saint-Avold (Moselle). The tallest tower of the Emile-Huchet coal-fired power plant was dynamited on Sunday, February 11, as part of the site’s conversion to clean energy production. The 10,000 tonnes of concrete of cooling tower number 5, which measured around 120 m high, collapsed in a few seconds, at 11 a.m., under the eyes of hundreds of onlookers.
Some 200 people, including fireworks and members of the police, were mobilized to carry out this “lightning”according to Jean-Michel Mazalèrat, the president of GazelEnergie, the company which operates the plant.
Coal is the energy source that emits the most greenhouse gases, responsible for climate change. Thus, many countries, including France, committed at the end of 2021, at COP26 in Glasgow, to abandon this fossil energy. But the following year, the government has relaunched coal production in France, in order to counter the shutdown of Russian gas supplies due to the invasion of Ukraine, as well as a significant drop in the production of the nuclear fleet in due to maintenance operations on several sites.
A power station undergoing conversion
To date, the Emile-Huchet power station and that of Cordemais, in Loire-Atlantique, are the last two coal-fired power stations still in operation in France. If they prepare their conversion to biomass, the Saint-Avold power plant again produced electricity at the start of the year, when France experienced a cold episode lasting a few days before the return of excessive mildness for a month of January.
However, by 2027, this plant must host the “Emil’hy” project (for Emile-Huchet and hydrogen), the ambition of which is to produce low-carbon and renewable hydrogen by electrolysis of water.
Representing an investment of 780 million euros to date, this project plans, for 2030, a total capacity of 400 MW and a production of 56,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year. But initially, the plant will have to primarily supply the German steelmaker Saarstahl Hoolding Saar (SHS), located opposite. The engineering studies are being finalized and public consultation should begin at the end of February, said a spokesperson for GazelEnergie, Camille Jaffrelo.