Rovinari power station

From Global Energy Monitor

The Rovinari power station is a 1,320-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Romania. It became part of the Oltenia Energy Complex in 2012.

A proposed new unit of 600 MW at Rovinari was cancelled in 2020.


The undated satellite photo below shows the power station in Gorj County.

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Background on existing power station

The subcritical coal-fired power station first consisted of two 200 MW units and four 330 MW units, built in 1976-1979. The first two 200 MW units have been retired.[1]

The plant is owned by SC Complexul Energetic Rovinari, owned in part by the Government of Romania. The Rovinari Power Station, along with the Craiova power station and Turceni power station, merged into the Oltenia Energy Complex in 2012.[2]

In November 2018 Greenpeace Romania and ClientEarth filed a complaint asking the Gorj Environmental Protection Agency to cancel the plant's permit, saying it does not comply with new, tougher EU pollution laws and fails to consider the impact on public health and environment.[3]

Expansion plans

In May 2012 Rovinari selected China Huadian Engineering Co. Ltd to build a 600 MW coal-fired plant worth US$1.3 billion (1 billion euro) at the station. Rovinari and China Huadian plan to set up an independent power producer (IPP), which will implement the project. Rovinari plans to replace two 200 MW energy blocks at the station that are currently out of use.[4][5]

According to Romanian press reports, Rovinari is one of several power investment projects for Chinese investors. Others include Hunedoara, Turceni, Cernavoda and Tarnita.[6]

Construction was expected to begin in 2014, and be completed five years later,[7] although as of 2014 the company is still preparing its environmental impact assessment toward required permits. The energy produced by the new plant would be exported to Austria and Turkey.[8]

On October 31, 2014, Energy Complex Oltenia and China Huadian Engineering agreed to set up a joint venture for the construction of a new unit at the Rovinari station, at an investment of almost one billion dollars. Construction is expected to begin in 2015 and take three to four years.[9]

However, the steps to create a Romanian-Chinese joint-venture were later frozen, according to Oltenia Energy Complex CEO Laurentiu Ciurel. Concerns were raised about the plant's profitability, once the feasibility study was completed. According to the organization Bankwatch: "The main concern appears to be that the Oltenia Energy Complex – the company that represents the Romanian side of the joint-venture – on several recent occasions had to sell its energy for a price way under production costs. There were times when the energy complex sold its electricity for as little as EUR 0.25 /MWh - not even one per cent of the production costs of EUR 35-55/ MWh. This price is not only too small to cover the production costs for any existing power plant but will never be able to cover investment and production costs of a new power plant which in this case are estimated to rise above EUR 1 billion."[10]

A completed feasibility study for the project is mentioned in an October 2015 Complexul Energetic Oltenia shareholder document.[11]

According to the NGO Bankwatch, the project was revamped by the new Energy Ministry in 2017, with an expected commissioning around 2020.[12] Negotiations between Romania and China Huadian Engineering resumed in August 2017, after almost a year of stagnation.[13] In November 2018 it was reported that negotiations are still ongoing.[3]

According to the Energy Strategy of Romania for 2019-2030, realization of the new 600 MW unit at the Rovinari Plant is considered a strategic investment of national interest.[14] In a March 2019 report, the NGO Bankwatch argues "if this unit were built, it would hardly (if ever) be economic. Fuel, CO2 and limestone costs will eat up 82% of the total revenue, leaving little room to cover the other costs – salaries, operation etc. – not to mention making a profit."[15]

The country's National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) through 2030 – released on January 31, 2020 – removes plans for new coal projects that appeared in earlier drafts, including the 600 MW unit at Rovinari.[16] In November 2020, Romania’s Minister of Economy and Energy, Virgil Daniel Popescu, confirmed to Euronews that no more coal plants will be built in the country, confirming that the proposed 600 MW expansion project has been cancelled.[17][18]

Coal ash spill

The ash remains

In December 2013, a coal ash deposit belonging to the Oltenia Energy Complex flooded 15 hectares of agricultural lands and 10 households in the Submaidane area of the Turceni and Ionesti settlements.[19]

Project Details of expansion plans

  • Sponsor: Complexul Energetic Oltenia
  • Parent company:
  • Developer: China Huadian Engineering
  • Location: Rovinari, Gorj, Romania
  • Coordinates: 44.910633, 23.134754 (exact)
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Capacity: 600 MW
  • Type:
  • Start date:
  • Coal Type: Lignite
  • Coal Source:
  • Source of financing: Romania Exim Bank, China Huadian (equity)[20][21][22]

Resources and articles


  1. "Coal- and Lignite-Fired Plants in Romania," Industcards, accessed April 2016
  2. "The study for the power plant in Rovinari to be ready this autumn," Romania Scout, May 22, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Environmentalists Challenge Permit for Romanian Coal Plant," Balkan Insight, Nov 2, 2018
  4. "Romania's Rovinari Picks Chinese Co to Build 1.0 Bln Euro Power Plant," Power Market, May 10, 2012.
  5. "The Article 10C Application of Romania, Bankwatch, Feb. 21, 2012.
  6. "Sova: Works on Rovinari power plant to start in 2014," Nine O'Clock, September 5, 2013
  7. "Works on the Rovinari power plant to start in 2014," nineoclock, Sep 5, 2013.
  8. "Energy Complex Oltenia and the Chinese company will build a power plant that will export energy in Austria and Turkey," Romania News Flash, Jan 25, 2013.
  9. "CE Oltenia and China Huadian signed the agreement of construction of the new energy group in Rovinari," Act Media, November 6, 2014
  10. "Rovinari power plant put on ice," Bankwatch Network, Nov 3, 2014
  11. Annex 5 to Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders, October 19, 2015 (not publicly available)
  12. Personal communication with Bankwatch, April 2017
  13. "Au fost reluate negocierile cu chinezii pentru centrala de la Rovinari," Agerpres, 9 Aug 2017
  14. "Accelerated negotiations for building a new energy group at Rovinari Power Plant," Energy Industry Review, Feb 12, 2019
  15. "Coal in the Romanian National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP)," Bankwatch, March 13, 2019
  16. "Mixed messages in Romania's energy and climate plan, as new coal projects are shelved but no date set for a coal phase-out". Bankwatch. 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  17. Hans von der Brelie, "Romania’s coal-black heartland embraces Europe's Green New Deal," Euronews, Nov. 13, 2020
  18. "As Romania's last new coal project is cancelled, a larger gas threat looms". Bankwatch. 2020-11-19. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  19. "The future is ash-grey for people in Turceni, Romania," Bankwatch, Sep. 9, 2014.
  20. "Bankwatch Romania Warns of Potentially Unlawful State Aids Granted to Complexul Energetic Oltenia". Energy Industry Review. 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  21. "Chinese Coal Power in Romania's Rustbelt | Echowall". Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  22. "Chinese-financed coal projects in Europe" (PDF). December 10, 2019.

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