Monday, November 28, 2011

No. 365: New technology to increase the generation efficiency of coal fired thermal power to higher than 55% (November 29, 2011)

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will work on the development of a new type coal thermal power plant in alliance with Chugoku Electric Power and J-Power. The new type will be characterized by the combination of fuel cells and the state-of-the-art coal fired thermal power that generates electricity by gasifying coals. It will have generation efficiency higher than 55% with less carbon dioxide emissions. The construction of a test plant will start next year, and the substantiative experiment is scheduled for 2020.

The new type is called the Integrated Coal Gasification Fuel Cell Combined Cycle (IGFC). It steams and burns coals, and subsequently generates electricity using fuel cells with the help of hydrogen collected from the gases. And it runs the gas turbine using the generated gases, and subsequently runs the steam turbine using the steam generated by the heat from the turbine. The three step generation system features the IGFC. Osaki CoolGen founded by Chugoku Electric and J-Power on a 50-50 basis will start building the test plant with a capacity of 170,000 kW next year with an investment of more than 100 billion yen, third of which is subsidy from the METI. The conventional coal fired thermal power has generation efficiency of 42% at most, while the generation efficiency of the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) is between 46% and 48%. Coal fired thermal power accounts for about 25% of Japan’s total power generation at present. Because of the Fukushima disaster, demand for coal fired thermal generation is expected to grow in the future.   

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