Skip to content

Another Clean Energy Failure

November 14, 2014

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plants were supposed to be an economical method for generating electricity, while removing 90% of the CO2 from emissions.

IGCC plants gasify coal, then separate the CO2 from combustible gasses, primarily hydrogen, and then burn the combustible gasses in a gas turbine, with the exhaust heat from the gas turbine used to produce steam for use in a steam-turbine generator.

IGCC Schematic from DOE Report

IGCC Schematic from DOE Report

This schematic illustrates the complexity of an IGCC power plant.

Two IGCC plants have been built in the United States, and one is under construction.

The plant, built by Tampa Electric Company in 1996, under an agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE), was the first IGCC plant built in the United States.

The Tampa plant was about half the size of the two newer plants and cost around $4,000 per KW, adjusted for inflation.

Tampa Electric cancelled plans for a second IGCC power plant.

The IGCC plant built in Edwardsport, Indiana, by AEP, cost around $5,340 per KW.
The plant under construction in Kemper County, Mississippi was originally estimated to cost $3,780 / KW.

The Kemper plant has been plagued by cost over runs. Costs have now ballooned to around $6 billion, or roughly $10,000 / KW.

For comparison purposes, a nuclear power plant costs approximately $6,000 / KW, while a natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plant costs around $1,100 / KW.

In addition, the Kemper project completion date has been put off again.

And Kemper is only designed to capture 65% of the CO2, not the 90% required for a so-called clean energy facility.

Kemper, an IGCC power plant, can only be described as a spectacular failure.

The failure of Kemper, and the probability that CO2 will not be sequestered underground, at least in part due to the threat of earthquakes and the possibility that sequestered CO2 can escape to the atmosphere, means that this facet of the clean energy agenda has failed in its entirety.

Only wind and solar remain, and it’s highly questionable whether they can produce more than 20% of the nation’s electricity. Germany, with only 22% of its electricity produced by wind and solar, is having difficulty maintaining its grid and the reliability of its electricity supply.

IGCC power plants are not a viable clean energy alternative. Wind and solar may also not be viable alternatives, except as niche supplies, similar to geothermal.


* * * * * *

These articles can be delivered directly to your mailbox. Subscribe by clicking below the photo on the right side of the article where it says email subscription, and entering your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

If you know someone who would be interested in these articles you can send him/her a link to the article and suggest he/she subscribes by clicking on the email subscription link under the picture on the right side of the page, and entering their email address.

To find earlier articles, click on the name of the preceding month below the calendar to display a list of articles published in that month. Continue clicking on the name of the preceding month to display articles published in prior months.

© Power For USA, 2010 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears, LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. donb permalink
    November 14, 2014 3:01 pm

    Given your numbers and assuming that power production via coal must release much less CO2 to remain viable, do these imply that coal as an energy source in the US will continue to be on a downward track?

    • November 14, 2014 3:27 pm

      Yes, especially if the effort to cut CO2 emissions continues.
      If the EPA is forced to stop its war on coal, then, with the use of ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants, future use of coal in the U.S. will depend largely on the price of natural gas vs that of coal.
      Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants can’t get down to 1,100 tons per Mwh, but they can improve by around 40% from current levels of CO2 emissions from existing coal-fitted power plants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s