Coal Age

MAR 2017

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18 March 2017 coal-fired power continued coal per day to produce 582 MW (net) of electricity," the NETL reported. The new plant will utilize Transport Gasifier (TRIG) technology developed jointly by Kellogg, Brown, & Root and Southern Co., and is suitable for the local lignite resources. The two gasifiers will operate in air-blown mode. The byproducts will be sold to off- set costs. The CO 2 captured will be sold and used for EOR. The plant is comprised of 2,500 miles of cable, 175 miles of pipe and 40,000 tons of structural steel, CEO Anthony Wilson said at Power-Gen International, where Kemper was awarded for its carbon cap- ture operation. Construction on the plant started in December 2010 and at times, according to headlines, appeared it would contin- ue indefinitely. When it finally went live, it was more than a year behind schedule and over budget by more than 300%. The plant's original 2006 price tag was $1.8 bil- lion; 10 years later the IGCC plant capex costs almost touched $5.56 billion. Kem- per had to pay back $130 million in fed- eral tax credits after missing a May 2014 deadline to start commercial production. The plant repeatedly had to rebuild sec- tions of infrastructure and eventually lost the backing of the South Mississippi Elec- tric Power Association. Throughout this, it maintained a high profile. Prior to taking the Whitehouse, President Donald Trump reportedly inspired Congress to consid- er expanding tax breaks to players in the energy sector. Coverage specifically men- tioned Kemper as a plant in need. "We've had our challenges," Wilson said. "Any time you do something that is the first of its kind at this scale, you are going to face adversity." In line with the company's history, Mississippi Power has turned things around, and the gasification plant is "competitive with any units on our fleet," he said. Like Polk, Kemper has the attention of energy companies worldwide for a couple of reasons. "Kemper will be the largest source of captured anthropogenic or manmade CO 2 from a generating plant anywhere in the world," Wilson said. "It is massive." Wilson said he is most proud of the plant's worker health and safety re- cord. "Over that six-year period, we have had zero recordable injuries." Asian and Eastern European energy companies in particular are tuning in to Kemper. "Our company has signed five MOUs and one letter of intent with foreign utilities who understand that the answer to coal's future could very well be in this technology," Wilson said. "Many of them, China, Eastern Europe, have very large de- posits of lignite, and they see this technol- ogy as a possible way for them to become energy independent." Indeed, China and Poland are report- edly deeply interested in coal gasification technologies. The countries combined have more than 500,000 megatons of lig- nite reserves, which is less than half of what the U.S. has. And, more importantly, they don't have easy access to the glutted American natural gas markets. To state the obvious, almost anywhere outside the U.S., Canada and certain Eurozone coun- tries, gasification technology is ascendant. Prior to fracking, it almost had a bright fu- ture here. Back to the Future IGCC harks back to a different era. For a society with huge coal reserves trying to prevent acid rain, it was the technology of the future. "It has a great environmen- tal profile in terms of clean air emissions. It also produces a hard and vitreous slag that is relatively inert in terms of the solid products that come out of it," Sarkus said. An IGCC plant also consumes one-third less water than a conventional coal-fired power plant. "Those things are all going to be more important going forward into the future," he said. However, he said, there is a point of di- minishing returns for fuel costs, he said. "A lot of people think that IGCC can become a winner economically if natural gas pric- es were in the range of $6-$8 or more per million Btu." Hornick agreed. "If coal is less expen- sive than natural gas, you've got it made because you have a good efficient process," he said. "If carbon capture is required and coal prices are relatively low with respect to natural gas, then IGCC would be some- thing that would be competitive." And that's in a ideal world, where ramp-up of an IGCC plant occurs on time and under budget, and where initial oper- ations face few technical difficulties, they said. "Reality is, we're over half way there," Sarkus said. "Many years ago, one of the former directors of NETL came and asked when is IGCC going to be purely commercial? How many of these are we going to have to build with government assistance un- til industry takes and runs with it. At that time my answer was at least 20," he said. "Where are we today? We're at about 12, compared to thousands of pulverized coal combustion units. I think you have to tem- per your expectations a bit." ______________________________________ Russell, J. (2011, January 29). Contractor Says Duke Took Risks at Plant. The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from www.ncwarn. org/2011/01/contractor-says-duke-took-risks-at-plant/. The biggest IGCC power plant in the world, Mississippi Power's 582-MW Kemper County Energy Facility, above, features two gasifiers and captures CO 2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). It was reportedly operational in January. (Photo: Mississippi Power)

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