UK fired up for more clean coal projects

Contenders come forward for additional coal-fired power generation schemes

By Andrew Cavenagh

Up to six clean coal power generation projects could be proposed over the next 12 months.

The revival of interest in coal-fired generation follows last week’s announcement by RJB Mining and Texaco that they would carry out a feasibility study for a 400MW plant in west Yorkshire, and Labour’s commitment to introduce subsidies for such schemes if elected.

The RJB/Texaco scheme would use the latter’s integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology – which converts coal into a clean gas before feeding it into a combined-cycle gas turbine (CGGT) – but other IGCC technologies are being considered for the UK.

`There are four candidates who could make a case for subsidies from government for gasification schemes,’ said one industry expert.

He said the level of subsidy necessary had fallen, as designs now had a capital cost of $1,000-$1,100 per installed kilowatt against $2,300 for earlier systems -CCGTs range is between $350 and $500. RJB’s initial estimate for the unit cost of power is 3p/kWh, compared with the average pool price of 2.3p/kWh.

There are also at least two clean coal projects using fluidised-bed technology – which removes pollutants during combustion – which could be put forward.

Eastern is discussing the construction of a 400MW fluidised bed plant in south Wales with mining group Celtic Energy, while British Coal is looking to sell its `topping cycle’ pressurised fluidised bed technology to a private investor to take to the development stage.

Power games, page 12

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