‘Hybrid’ power plants offer £450m of work

Two ‘hybrid’ clean-coal projects in Scotland should offer beleaguered power plant builders more than £450m of business over the next two years. As the industry faces an effective moratorium until 2001 on building more combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants, US developer Global Energy is proposing two projects that will combine clean-coal technology with waste disposal. […]

Two ‘hybrid’ clean-coal projects in Scotland should offer beleaguered power plant builders more than £450m of business over the next two years.

As the industry faces an effective moratorium until 2001 on building more combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants, US developer Global Energy is proposing two projects that will combine clean-coal technology with waste disposal.

The plants, which will be built on the former British Gas Westfield development site in Fife, will use integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) technology which gasifies coal before running it through a gas turbine.

The gas they burn will also be partly produced from waste domestic refuse in one instance and sewerage sludge in the other.

The larger project is a 400MW plant that Global subsidiary Fife Electric will develop at a cost of about £350m. It will burn a 79%-21% mix of synthetic gas made from municipal waste and coal and natural gas.

Alan Leitch, manager for IGCC power systems at Global Energy, said the project could only compete with CCGT plants fired by natural gas because it could sell by-products from the gasifier such as sulphur and charge a gate fee for the refuse. ‘The difference is that we can make money on part of the fuel,’ he said.

Fife Electric is awaiting the outcome of its planning application for the plant, and Leitch said building could start early in 1999.

The second, £100m-plus, project is being developed by sister company Fife Power, which will use the old BG gasifier on the site to convert a 75MW open-cycle gas turbine plant into a 120MW IGCC unit. This would use dehydrated sewerage sludge rather than refuse in the production of synthetic gas.