The investment of Mátra Power Plant started in 1965 based on lignite source in the area of Visonta.
The company of Gyöngyösi Hőerőmű Vállalat (Gyöngyösi Thermal Power Plant) was established on 1 October 1967, and later, on 29 May 1968 it was named after the first astronaut in the world, Gagarin Hőerőmű Vállalat (Gagarin Thermal Power Plant).
Lignite excavation with a larger capacity was started by Gyöngyöspatai Kovaföldművek Rt. in 1917, then a new mining company, Mátravidéki Szénbányák Rt. was established in 1918. The investment of Thorez mine - later Visonta mine – supplying fuel to Gagarin Thermal Power Plant started in 1962, and the mine was opened in 1964. The mining technology used by Mátraaljai Szénbányák was deep-mining until 1968, after that lignite was excavated by surface-mining. Open-pit mining operation started in Visonta in 1964 and in Bükkábrány in 1985.
As for the units of the power plant, 2 units with the capacity of 100 MW each (Unit I - II) and 3 units with the capacity of 200 MW each (Unit III – IV – V) were built. The first unit of 100 MW was handed over in 1969, and the last unit with 200 MW installed capacity was completed in 1972.
The first unit of the power plant was parallelly connected to the national grid at 18:15 on 19 June 1969.
There were several developments carried out on the equipment of the power plant including an outstanding large reconstruction programme between 1986 and1992, which laid the groundwork for subsequent lifetime-increasing investments. Within the framework of the reconstruction, the main and auxiliary equipments of all 3 units of 200 MW were renewed or replaced. New steam boilers with membrane walls and German, LURGI type electrostatic precipitators (electrofilters) were installed, and modernization of control systems was implemented. Besides, steam-turbines, generators, transformers, cooling systems as well as part of the delivery system were renovated.
The power plant operated in the form of a joint-stock company from 1 January 1992, then on 1 April 1993 the ownership and organizational integration of the companies Mátraaljai Szánbányák and Mátrai Erőmű Zrt. was implemented creating the corporation of Mátrai Erőmű Részvénytársaság.
With the privatization of the energy industry in December 1995, the majority of the shares of Mátrai Erőmű Zrt. became German-owned.
Based on the significant lignite resources in North-Hungary, the company carried out performance and lifetime upgrades on the units of 200 MW in the years of 1998-2000, and meanwhile it also made environmental investments.
Flue-gas desulphurization (FGD) system was installed inside the cooling tower at Mátra Power Plant first in the world. This method now is in use at several places all over the world. The flu-gas gets into the open air through the cooling tower, but after the efficient screening of the electrofilters and the desulphurization process, only its condensed water content will be visible as it exits the chimney.
The good technical condition of the 3 units of 200 MW gave the opportunity to perform renewal (retrofit) works in order to increase the gross output of the units, and to extend their service lives. Mátrai Erőmű Zrt. implemented a modern, environment-friendly, so-called ‘thick-slurry’ technology for deposing slag and ash, which has been in use since 1999. The company completed its retrofit programme in 2003, which also involved connecting units of 100 MW (Unit I and II) to the flue-gas desulphurization system.
The installation of the 2 gas turbines commissioned in 2007 had the primary aim to improve the controllability of the units. On one hand, the generator connected to the gas turbine can generate electricity as a stand-alone unit, on the other hand, the heat of the flue-gas leaving the gas turbine can be utilized at the high pressure preheaters of Unit IV and V using a heat exchanger, further improving efficiency. After the retrofit programme and the installation of the gas turbines, the output of the power generating units operated by the company is as follows:
|Unit I||100 MW||lignite/biomass|
|Unit II||100 MW||lignite/biomass|
|Unit III||220 MW||lignite/biomass|
|Unit IV||232 MW||lignite/biomass|
|Unit V||232 MW||lignite/biomass|
|Unit VI||33 MW||natural gas|
|Unit VII||33 MW||natural gas|
The lignite fuel supply of the power plant is provided by the two mines of the company in Visonta and in Bükkábrány. The economically exploitable proportion of the national lignite resources of Visonta and Bükkábrány provides a lasting guarantee for the operation of the company.
Open-pit mining operation started in Visonta in 1964 and in Bükkábrány in 1985.
The power plant also produces renewable energy by utilizing different biomass, the by-products of the agricultural activities in North-Hungary, which proves its significant contribution to achieving the sustainability indicators undertaken within the European Union. In order to reduce its CO2 – emission, the company also burns biomass mixed to the fuel in the proportion of 10 %.
The establishment of the photovoltaic solar power plant of 16 MW installed capacity in Visonta – which was then the largest in Hungary – was a milestone in green energy production. It was put into operation in 2015 and was followed by the commissioning of another solar power plant of 20 MW installed capacity in Bükkábrány in 2019. These investments are of key importance in several respects. On one hand, the high energy – import dependence of Hungary will be reduced by using renewable energy sources, and it will contribute to achieve the proportion of electricity generation based on renewable energy sources laid down in European Union regulations. On the other hand, it will make it possible to reduce our national CO2 emissions in respect of environmental sustainability and climate protection.
The operation and maintenance tasks of the solar power plants are carried out by electrical operation and maintenance specialists working in the power plant and the mines. However, their work is not limited only to the 16 and 20 MW units established and since sold by Mátrai Erőmű Zrt., but also provide the MVM Group with similar services, ensuring the supervision of a total of 76 MW of photovoltaic power plant capacity.
In 2007 an industrial park connected to Mátra Power Plant was established on a plot consisting of 244 ha core area and 15 ha development area, which administratively belongs partly to Visonta and partly to Halmajugra municipalities. It is bordered on the north-east by the reservoir of Markaz, on the east by agricultural area belonging to the municipality of Markaz, on the south by landscaped mining area returned to agricultural cultivation, and on the west by forest area and vineyards planted on landscaped mine-dumps belonging to the municipality of Visonta.
The firms and production companies settled right next to the power plant based their business intentions on the available commodity supplies, including cheap electricity and the existing infrastructure, utilizing by-products resulting from the operation of the power plant, and biomass co-firing projects. In order to utilize by-products, companies producing plasterboard and alpha-semi-hydrate settled in the nearby area of the power plant, furthermore, a biodiesel, bioethanol producing plant is also operating in the industrial park, which requires steam and electricity from the Mátra.