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Efficiency upgrades and partial carbon capture for coal-fired power plants

AUTHOR: Deborah Adams
DATE: July 2009

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is widely called for as a way of seriously reducing emissions of CO2. This report looks at other ways of reducing emissions of CO2 from existing and planned power plants. A range of methods are covered, starting with those that improve the efficiency of the plant and thus reduce emissions of CO2. Coal upgrading can improve the efficiency of a power plant by 2–3%. There are various ways to improve the thermal efficiency of a coal-fired power plant. These include housekeeping measures, improved monitoring, various water/steam cycle improvements and a reduction in the auxiliary power requirement. Major upgrades involve converting a subcritical plant to supercritical and the development of ultra-supercritical steam conditions. The cofiring of biomass can reduce emissions of CO2 if the biomass is grown in a regenerative manner. Biomass can be cofired at r tes of about 10% thermal without having a major effect on coal-fired power plant. Partial capture of CO2 may be possible as a preliminary to the full capture of CO2, but it is unlikely to be implemented on a wide scale.