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Advanced Power sells 920 MW Belgian gas plant project to Germany's RWE

Highlights

Project needs environmental permit

Sale six months before capacity auction

Advanced Power focuses on CEE

London — Advanced Power has sold its 920 MW Dils Energie combined cycle gas turbine power project in Belgium to RWE of Germany for an undisclosed sum, the Swiss independent power developer said April 6.

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The sale comes six months before Belgium is due to hold its first capacity market auction, designed to encourage sufficient generation ahead of closure of the country's 6 GW nuclear fleet by 2025.

"We believe RWE's experience, existing commercial capabilities, and strategic presence in the Belgium market uniquely strengthen Dils Energie's position for the upcoming CRM [Capacity Remuneration Mechanism]," said Advanced Power's CEO Thomas Spang.

The Eur500 million ($590 million) combined cycle gas turbine generating facility in Dilsen-Stokkem, Limburg was acquired by Advanced Power from EDF in 2011.

On February 3 Dilsen-Stokkem's city council advised against issuing an environmental permit to the project. That advise has gone to the province of Limburg's permanent deputation for a final decision.

The council said construction of a large gas plant was not compatible with its climate objectives, nor was it visually acceptable in terms of spatial planning.

The sale to RWE would allow Advanced Power to focus on investment in renewables, flexible generation and storage projects in Central and East Europe, the developer said.

The Dils CCGT is one of several being planned ahead of a capacity auction that still has to be approved by the European Commission's competition services.

Belgium expects the EC to rule on the mechanism's design this summer, Belgian energy minister, Tinne Van de Straeten, told a parliamentary committee late March.

This would leave market players time to prepare for a first auction in October, the minister said.

Prequalification for the competition opens in May and closes on June 15.

Other producers planning gas-fired power stations in Belgium include Engie-Electrabel (870 MW each at Awirs and Vilvoorde), Eneco (870 MW at Manage near Seneffe, and T-Power (900 MW at Tessenderlo). Engie-Electrabel also has a permit for a 320 MW gas turbine plant at Amercoeur.

RWE, meanwhile, has looked at the possibility of connecting its Claus C gas plant, just over the Belgian border in the Netherlands, directly to the Belgian grid in order to participate in the CRM as a virtual Belgian asset. Generation assets in neighboring markets would also be able to bid into the mechanism.