ČEZ Group starts decarbonising Czech Republic’s largest heat source


Utility ČEZ Group has started transitioning its heat production and distribution business from coal-fired to low-carbon technologies with the closure of the Mělník III coal-fired power plant.

Mělník is the largest source of district heating in the Czech Republic and has three coal-fired units which will be closed by 2030 as the ČEZ Group accelerates its transition to clean energy resources to mitigate climate change. The plant provides heat to more than 250,000 households.

The coal-fired electricity and heat generators at Mělník will be replaced with low-carbon heat generators that will be powered using gas, biomass, and other modern technologies. ČEZ Group will be installing energy-efficient steam gas generators, hydrogen combustion and production systems, biomass boilers, heat pumps, and waste-to-energy recovery equipment at the three units.

The electric boilers under consideration will also be used to help regulate the electricity transmission and distribution system.

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With district heating accounting for nearly 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Czech Republic, replacing coal-fired heat production with green technologies will play a key role in the country’s energy transition. ČEZ Group says the project will help the company to meet its sustainability goals and carbon emissions targets set by Prague, Melnik, and Neratovice, cities supplied heat by the Melnik power plant.

The closure of the plant is part of ČEZ Group’s Clean Energy of Tomorrow strategy which was presented in May 2021 and includes the utility’s renewable energy installation plan through 2030. ČEZ Group has a target to deploy 6GW of renewable energy capacity and invest CZK40 billion ($1.8 billion) to modernise its district heating system by 2030. CEZ Group plans to produce only 12.5% of its total electricity from coal by 2030.

Pavel Cyrani, ČEZ Deputy Chairman of the Board, adds: “The greening of the Mělník-based plant is one of the important steps to achieving low-emission production. Due to the size of the Mělník source and its importance for Prague, this is where we will direct the largest share of the planned investments in the modernisation of the heating industry,” 

Miroslav Krpec, CEO of Energotrans, reiterates: “We value our employees; their many years of operational experience are irreplaceable for us, so we were looking for ways to retain as many of these qualified specialists as possible. Employees from the decommissioned Mělník III power plant have been trained in advance for a transition to our heating plants. In this way, we succeeded in securing jobs for a vast majority of our colleagues.” 

The entire Mělník plant provides 300 permanent jobs and more than 1,000 additional temporary jobs.

The existing coal dump for the trio of the Mělník plants will be used to install photovoltaic panels in the future. Energotrans, which operates the heating plants, is also in talks with the Nuclear Research Institute about the option of operating an experimental circuit within the premises with supercritical CO2 for the testing of torque machines.