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Vattenfall to Convert Danish Coal-Fired Plants to Biomass

The plan will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1.5 million metric tons annually and move the company closer to its goal of making the electricity it produces in the Nordic region carbon neutral.

Vattenfall will convert its coal-fired power plant fleet in Denmark to biomass, the energy company said this week.

Beginning in 2018, Vattenfall will replace as much as 724,000 tons of coal with biomass to generate electricity every year. The initiative, dubbed MaxBio by the company, will cost more than 5 billion Danish crowns (US$865 million) and utilize wood and straw during its first phase. Carbon dioxide emissions at the three large Danish power plants scheduled to undergo conversion will drop by more than 1.5 million metric tons annually. The plants will use either all biomass, or partial biomass combined with coal.

"Our goal is to turn electricity into an entirely clean product that customers can consume with a good conscience, given the concerns that they have about global warming," said Vattenfall Vice President Hans von Uthmann in a statement. "The entire Vattenfall Group is fully engaged in changing our power plants and production methods such that we can meet the expectations that world has on us to provide clean, environmentally friendly energy."

The company plans to spend more than 60 billion Danish crowns (US$10 billion) through 2016 cleaning up its electricity generation, with an overarching goal of turning all production in the Nordic region carbon neutral by 2030. By 2030, Vattenfall wants to cut its companywide emissions in half.

Vattenfall said it generates its electricity in Sweden and Finland using mostly hydro and nuclear sources, while in Germany and Poland, it relies mainly on fossil fuels. It began a carbon capture and storage pilot project last year at a coal-fired power plant in Germany.

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