Tuesday, 29 July 2014
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Carbon capture-ready clean coal power

Mitsui Babcock has secured a contract with Scottish and Southern Energy for front end engineering design of a carbon capture ready 500MW clean coal plant retrofit at SSE’s Ferrybridge Power Station in Yorkshire.

Mitsui Babcock has secured a contract with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) for front end engineering design of a carbon capture ready 500MW clean coal plant retrofit at SSE’s Ferrybridge Power Station in Yorkshire. This represents the first application of capture ready clean coal technology in the UK.

On completion, the installation of Mitsui Babcock’s supercritical clean coal boiler technology could save around 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year compared with the current conventional subcritical power station plant. The subsequent deployment of carbon capture technology could save a further 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

High-level engineering feasibility studies into the project have already been completed. Mitsui Babcock, the lead contactor, along with partners Siemens and UK Coal, will now carry out further detailed front end engineering design work with the aim of confirming the overall viability of the scheme. This work is expected to be complete within the current year, to allow investment decisions to be taken by SSE during 2007. Subject to a positive investment decision, the capture ready plant could be in commercial operation by 2011.

The project involves the retrofit installation of a 500MW supercritical boiler and turbine unit on the site. This will be the first application of its kind in the UK, delivering a thermal efficiency of over 45 per cent, compared to a thermal efficiency of around 36 per cent associated with the current UK coal fired fleet. The new plant will be designed with a ‘capture ready’ capability to facilitate the subsequent deployment of post-combustion carbon dioxide capture equipment.

Iain Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Mitsui Babcock, said, “SSE is now proving that there is already a market for clean coal. If the technology was rolled out across the UK the impact on emissions and security of supply would be dramatic. This plant development in Yorkshire paves the way for a significant new trend, heralding the start of a new generation of clean coal in the UK. Clean coal already delivers up to 40 per cent reductions in carbon dioxide, but this contract heralds the beginning of even greater CO2 capture possibilities.”

Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE, said, “Investment in the development and deployment of new and emerging technologies for generating electricity is central to SSE’s long-term strategy for sustainable electricity generation in the UK. The ability to deploy technology to ‘de-carbonise’ fuel to provide low emissions generation, while ensuring we are still able to use coal reserves as primary fuel sources, would be of enormous value. Although it is early days as far as this development is concerned, I believe that cleaner coal represents a very exciting opportunity for SSE and for the UK as a whole.”

Installation of the supercritical plant is estimated to require an investment by SSE of around £250 million and the post-combustion carbon dioxide capture equipment is estimated to require a further investment by SSE of around £100 million. SSE would own and operate the supercritical plant and the carbon capture equipment, if deployed. It would examine the opportunities for securing supplies of fuel for the station from coal in the UK, such as that mined at Kellingley, which is very close to Ferrybridge itself.

Supercritical plant operates at greater than ‘supercritical pressure’ (typically 300 bar) with 600oC steam conditions. By raising the pressure and temperature of the generated steam to supercritical conditions, power plant efficiency is increased, making more electricity from less coal and reducing CO2 emissions compared to a conventional plant. Supercritical plant can be ‘retrofitted’ to existing coal plants, using the existing infrastructure at the site.

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