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Competitiveness of coal-fired power generation

AUTHOR: Paul Baruya
DATE: September 2008

This report considers the key factors that determine the operation of existing and new coal-fired capacity in selected OECD countries (USA, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, Finland and Canada). Coal-fired power cannot be analysed in isolation, and so a broad analysis across all power generating disciplines is given to provide a picture of coal’s position in world generation today and in the near future.

The report aims to move away from idealised cost comparisons where stations are assumed to run at baseload, to see the effects on stations’ economics under a range of likely plant utilisations and efficiencies. This enables a clearer picture of how stations are run in different countries, and what cost structures different technologies are likely to operate under based on technology type and age of the plants. Included in the analysis is a notional cost for CO2 to assess what effect it has on fossil fuel generation.

This report draws heavily on existing IEA electricity and price data, the IEA CCC power station database (CoalPower) for specific installation information (steam conditions, flue gas desulphurisation, selective catalytic reduction, etc, age of plants), and a number of IEA and non-IEA sources for capital costs, discount factors, demand projections, fuel price evaluation, life of plant, hydroelectric potential.