Long-Delayed Kemper County Hybrid Plant Produces First Electricity

By Editors of Power Engineering

Though Mississippi Power’s Kemper County hybrid energy facility encountered plenty of setbacks on the way, it’s finally produced its first electricity.

The power, generated as part of the plant start-up process, was produced from a combination of syngas and natural gas.

"After decades of research and years of hard work at the site, we are thrilled that the Kemper County energy facility, the world's most advanced coal plant, has generated electricity using syngas," said Thomas A. Fanning, president and CEO of Southern Company, the parent company of Mississippi Power. "The technology at the heart of the first-of-its-kind facility provides a way forward for energy companies in the U.S. and around the world to cleanly generate electricity using an affordable and abundant resource."

Syngas is created when the locally-mined lignite is heated at high temperatures in the plant’s gasifiers, converting the coal to gas. The syngas, which is used similarly to natural gas, produces electricity through the plant’s combustion turbines.

Southern Company will continue to testing on syngas, natural gas or a combination of both as progress continues toward commercial operation.

"The generation of electricity using syngas is just the latest example of our company's commitment to deliver on our promise that Kemper will provide Mississippi Power customers with safe, reliable energy for decades to come,” said Anthony L. Wilson, president and CEO of Mississippi Power “Achieving this latest milestone means that we are implementing innovative 21st-century technology right here in Mississippi."

The next major milestones are expected to include the production of electricity by the project's second gasifier, operating both combustion turbines using all syngas, followed by complete integration of the project's systems leading to full commercial operation.

The plant, originally budgeted at $2.9 billion for a 2014 operation date, grew to $6.9 billion and a service date of November 30 of this year. The last budget hike of $33 million and monthlong-delay was just announced last week.

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