Improvements in the efficiency of coal-fired power plants can be achieved with technologies including:
New pulverised coal combustion systems – utilising supercritical and ultra-supercritical technology – operate at increasingly higher temperatures and pressures and therefore achieve higher efficiencies than conventional PCC units and significant CO2 reductions. Supercritical steam cycle technology has been used for decades and is becoming the system of choice for new commercial coal-fired plants in many countries. Research and development is under way for ultra-supercritical units operating at even higher efficiencies, potentially up to around 50%. The introduction of ultra-supercritical technology has been driven over recent years in countries such as Denmark, Germany and Japan, in order to achieve improved plant efficiency and reduce fuel costs.
An alternative to achieving efficiency improvements in conventional pulverised coal-fired power stations is through the use of gasification technology. IGCC plants use a gasifier to convert coal (or other carbon-based materials) to syngas, which drives a combined cycle turbine. More information can be found on the gasification section.
Circulating Fluidised Bed Combustion (CFBC) is a very flexible method of electricity production – most combustible material can be burnt including coal, biomass and general waste. CFBC systems improve the environmental impact of coal-based electricity, reducing SOx and NOx emissions by 90%.
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