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Dunamenti power plant opens upgraded unit

Dunamenti Erőmű Zrt, the operator of Hungary's second largest power plant, has brought online its new 407-megawatt G3 unit, a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) block upgraded from 215 MW in a €200 million brownfield investment project.

"This is an important milestone of our presence in Hungary," Jean-Francois Cirelli, vice-president and deputy CEO of GDF SUEZ, Dunamenti's majority owner, said at the opening ceremony at the power plant's site in Százhalombatta.

In a process known as repowering, Dunamenti modernized an existing 215 MW gas-fired steam turbine, and installed a heat recovery steam generator and a gas turbine, raising the unit's capacity to 407 MW and its efficiency from 36% to 57%. Dunamenti broke ground on the project in June 2009.

The upgrade also significantly lowered emissions at the unit, including a 41% cut in NOx emissions and a 36% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The project was financed entirely by Dunamenti's own resources, without bank loans or grants, Dunamenti chairman Péter Csiba told reporters.

Dunamenti currently has other smaller CCGT units with combined capacity of 446 MW, and five older gas-fired steam turbine units of 215 MW each. Of these five, Dunamenti plans to repower at least one (under the G4 project), whereas the rest may be closed down as their licenses expire in the coming years.

The G4 project has received the necessary permits, but a final decision to proceed with construction has not yet been made, and its timing will depend on whether business and financial conditions are favorable, according to Csiba.

Dunamenti accounted for 7% of all electricity generated in Hungary last year, producing 2.6 terawatt-hours. Its built-in capacity, now 1,928 MW, makes up more than 20% of Hungary's total.

The opening ceremony was also attended by János Bencsik, Hungarian state secretary in charge of energy affairs, who highlighted the plant's contribution to the security of Hungary's energy supplies, and encouraged further cooperation between GDF SUEZ and Hungarian state power group MVM, a 25% owner of Dunamenti.