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Important topics from the IEA CCC’s 7th Clean Coal Technologies Conference

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World Coal,

On the 17 – 21 May, the IEA Clean Coal Centre’s 7th Clean Coal Technologies conference (CCT2015) took place in Krakow, Poland and was organised with the help of local hosts, the Central Mining Institute of Poland and the patronage of the Polish Ministry of Economy. Almost 200 participants from over 30 countries attended.

Carbon capture

Carbon capture was prevalent throughout the conference. A keynote from Juho Lipponen of the IEA provided a viewpoint of the factors that are making particular CCS demonstrations more possible, including government support, fuel source certainty, revenue for the CO2 and the strategic advantage of claiming a technical first.

As well as the Kemper IGCC project, due to commence operations next year, two other pre-combustion capture plants are planned and a 240 MW post-combustion slipstream on the Petra Nova plant in Texas is underway.

Smaller-scale local projects include Polish utility Tauron’s ‘split flow’ amine pilot, which develops the energetic integration of the stripper and absorber columns and a comparatively unique solid sorbent pilot based on pressure swing adsorption (PSA).

Flexibility of coal

In the first day’s keynotes, Oliver Then, VGB Powertech, exemplified the issue of coal-fired power plants needing to operate flexibly in order to provide valuable backup to the irregular renewables. He evaluated the expanding economic and technical pressures on coal-fired plants that are taking place in Germany. Then explained conditions such as dispatch priority for a significant amount of renewables on the grid, which have led to forcing coal-fired power plants to operate for reduced hours at lower energy prices. This may potentially force a move from large, high-efficiency plants to smaller plants design for maximum flexibility.

Through a variety of presentations, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems addressed the technical solutions, which have been created to enhance plant flexibility. These included reducing minimum load by using more mills and new burner designs, decreasing material thickness to stop the effect of thermal stresses and attaining cheap, quick start-ups with electrical burner ignition. Conversion of excess power to methanol transport fuel was proposed as a solution for large-scale energy storage. It would use capture CO2 as the carbon source.

Upgrades to power plant control systems were also proposed as an effective method of optimising plant efficiency, flexibility and accessibility.

There is potential for integrating coal-fired power plants with innovative technologies as research continues, developing technology such as new control paradigms based on wireless sensor networks and microelectronic sensors, which can be embedded into plant components through additive manufacturing.

Reducing pollutant emissions

A top priority of the coal industry is reducing pollutant emissions such as NOx and SOx, as well as restricting emissions on the horizon and mercury now. Shenhua Guohua Power gave a presentation detailing its near zero emissions technology. This technology has met China’s rigorous emission targets and the emission targets for gas plants.

Because of lower fuel costs, these cleaner coal plants are considered to be a more economic choice compared to gas turbines.

Edited from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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