E.ON has won approval from the state of Hesse to build a 1.1 GW coal fired power plant in central Germany.
The EUR1.2bn ($1.6bn) plant would replace three old generation units built in the 1960s and 1970s, reports Dow Jones. The 1.1 GW unit would be the sixth to be built at the Staudinger site.
In a written statement, however, the company said it would final decision to build the facility after weighing up the legal issues surrounding likely lawsuits that opponents of the project have previously announced.
Initially, E.ON planned to have the new Staudinger block operational in 2012, but a lengthy ongoing approval process has delayed the project’s completion by at least a year to 2013. The project has been fiercely contested by environmental groups and residents over climate protection issues.
“It is too early to provide details on the expected time schedule of construction and start of operations,” a spokesman for E.ON power plant unit E.ON Kraftwerke GmbH said.
E.ON has faced considerable legal challenges at a similar power plant project in western Germany, where lawsuits have significantly delayed the completion of its Datteln power plant.
In a separate statement, the Darmstadt-based governing council said the first approval for the Staudinger plant allows E.ON to build facilities such as the power plant’s boiler and engine houses or its cooling tower.
Approval for the actual operation of the power plant has yet been issued, the governing council said. It added, however, that the first partial approval includes “fundamental regulations” that E.ON has to abide to when eventually operating the plant.
E.ON had previously said it sticks to its plan to build the new Staudinger power plant despite partner Stadtwerke Hannover’s decision earlier this year to exit the project.
Stadtwerke Hannover, the local utility of the northern German city of Hanover, in November said it will sell its last remaining 12.6 per cent in the Staudinger project to E.ON due to the German government’s new energy policies that affect the profitability of coal-fired power plants.