BNFL backs clean-coal bid

British Nuclear Fuels is supporting a venture to build at least two clean-coal technology power stations in the UK next year. Progressive Energy plans to build two 350MW plants in South Wales and perhaps one in the north of England. BNFL will support the company’s efforts to take the technology through to development, but Progressive […]

British Nuclear Fuels is supporting a venture to build at least two clean-coal technology power stations in the UK next year.

Progressive Energy plans to build two 350MW plants in South Wales and perhaps one in the north of England.

BNFL will support the company’s efforts to take the technology through to development, but Progressive Energy will be independent and privately owned.

The plants will be integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) units, which convert coal into gas before feeding it into a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT).

This particular IGCC system was developed by Magnox Electric and Jacobs Engineering, and acquired by BNFL when it took over Magnox last year.

The system uses proven gasification and gas turbine technology and has a generating efficiency of 44%.

John Griffiths, the process development manager at Jacobs, said this was the highest figure for commercially available IGCC technology. It is achieved largely due to the use of a dry-feed gasifier rather than the wet (slurry) feed type of unit seen on most operating IGCC plants, he added.

Refinery oil residues and orimulsion can also be used as fuels for the Progressive Energy system.

Peter Whitton, managing director of Progressive Energy, who was formerly head of business development at Magnox Electric, said it would form separate companies to undertake the projects, in which equipment vendors, coal suppliers and power companies would be potential partners.

The overall cost of a plant will be about £300m, and Progressive Energy will not ask for an operating subsidy, unlike RJB Mining and National Power. They claim a subsidy will be essential if they are to proceed with plans to build an IGCC plant, using Texaco gasifier technology, on the site of RJB’s Kellingley colliery in Yorkshire.