France considers biomass conversion of Cordemais power plant

By Erin Voegele | January 25, 2019

The government of France recently announced it is working in conjunction with Électricité de France (EDF), a French electric utility, to study the possibility of converting the 1,200 MW Cordemais power plant from coal to biomass.

The French Ministry of the Ecological and Solidary Transition made the announcement Jan. 23.

According to information released by the ministry, France intends to cease electricity production from coal power plants by 2022 as part of its effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and respond to global warming. Converting the Cordemais power station to biomass could help guarantee the country’s energy supply, the ministry said.

The study being conducted by the ministry and EDF will consider the impact of biomass conversion on air quality. It will also address the economic viability of fueling the plant with biomass and include additional analysis related to the security of the electric network in western France.

According to EDF, the Cordemais power plant has two coal production units, each with a 600 MW capacity. The plant was commissioned in 1970. Information published to EDF’s websites indicates the facility currently employs 378 permanent workers and supports 250 jobs associated with services companies.

As part of the Ecocombust project, EDF said biomass fuel is currently being tested at the Cordemais plant. The test is employing locally manufactured fuel made from the woody portion of plant residues. That material is densified on site using steam produced by the plant. According to EDF, the project is also studying the production of pellets from Class B wood. If the testing has a positive outcome, EDF said the facility could initially cofire approximately 50 percent biomass. In the medium term, the company aims to reach 80 percent cofiring or fire the plant with 100 percent biomass.