New Technologies, New Questions for Emissions Control

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By Robert Evatt

Wednesday’s emissions control POWER-GEN International session examined how the Clean Power Plan is affecting operations of various plants, as well as other topics.

The first speaker was Gordon Henley, operations and maintenance manager for the National Carbon Capture Center. The center, which began operations in 2008, works with the support of Southern Company engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The site was created to be a completely neutral test site to help develop near-zero emission technology and test them out under real-world conditions. By doing so, companies and researchers alike can develop these technologies at a much lower cost than they would at their own facilities.

A variety of new technologies were developed there, including the coal gasifier methods that eventually evolved into Mississippi Power’s Kemper County facility, which should enter into production next month.

The Carbon Capture Center has drawn international attention and visitors, and the site will soon host an International Test Center Network.

Marc Lemmons, a boiler specialist with Sargent & Lundy, examined natural gas technology options for compliance with the Clean Power Plan. The CPP calls for a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, though the plan is currently under judicial review by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

One option for meeting the CPP goals is to convert to natural gas. Though natural gas prices were projected to spike, new estimates indicate they will just barely rise over the next year.

Lemmons compared two case studies of coal plant gas conversions. The Powder River Basin coal conversion resulted in a 45 percent reduction in emissions, though it resulted in a cost of $19 to $20 per ton of CO2.

A Bituminous conversion resulted in a 40 percent reduction in emissions, though the cost was lower at $16 to $17 per ton.

Bob Fraser, a partner with Environmental Resources Management, continued his company’s long-term study of a hypothetical coal plant dubbed “Old Smokey Power.”

This aging plant faces strong competition from nearby gas plants, plus the CPP would force the plant to change its operations.

Possible adaptations of Old Smokey would include a conversion to a base-load combined cycle gas plant, using gas refueling to be used in times of peak consumption, and carbon capture and resale.

Were Old Smokey a real plant, Fraser would recommend to continue examining the price of fuels, negotiate offers for natural gas purchase and CO2 sales, monitor the CPP and find an active stakeholder in the state’s house of representatives, as states have the power to implement stricter emission standards than the U.S. government.

Dale Bradshaw, CEO of Electrivation LLC and consultant and technical liaison to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, outlined a number of potential CO2 removal options that would appeal to more rural areas.

Two of the potential options included a cryogenic carbon capture system that could also store electricity, and Accelergy algae biofertilizer carbon offsets and terrestrial sequestration system that could capture CO2 and use it as fertilizer.

Bradshaw noted the NRECA covers 80 percent of the landmass of the U.S., but only 10 percent of the country’s generation.

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