None of the clean coal technologies under consideration will come close to matching combined-cycle gas turbine plants for efficiency or low emissions, according to energy minister John Battle.
He quoted IEA Coal Research figures showing generating efficiencies of clean coal technologies ranging from 38-52% – compared with the 55-60% the gas turbine manufacturers are achieving. The only technologies capable of attaining the 52% figure – ultra-supercritical steam in conventional plants and supercritical steam in hybrid plants – were at a highly experimental stage.
Furthermore, while the IEA figures suggested that some of the cleaner technologies could cut CO2 emissions by 20-30% if they replaced conventional coal plant, Battle said they would all emit `significantly more CO2 per unit of electricity than combined cycle gas turbine stations’.
A former British Coal director warns in research to be published by the Oxera energy consultancy that the coal industry is in irreversible decline. Malcolm Edwards, former commercial director, said increased use of gas, environmental constraints and coal imports had caused terminal damage.