Technologies for New Fossil Fuel Plants

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In the three countries discussed in this chapter, domestic fossil fuel will continue to remain a key element of power sector. Many developing countries with ready access to such cheap domestic fuel will use them for future development, and therefore it is important to consider potential GHG mitigation options for these new fossil fuel-based plants. A key first option, especially for China and India, is to focus on advanced combustion technologies, such as supercritical (SC) and ultra-supercritical (USC) PC technologies. Some of these plants can help replace retire older inefficient plants from the existing fleet. China has already made substantial progress in this direction, and installed 8.8 GWe indigenous USC PC generation capacity. Further, China has embarked on significant future capacity addition based on USC and SC PC combustion technology. According to the IEA, as a result of the introduction of advanced steam cycle plants and the closure of smaller inefficient plants, carbon emissions intensity of coal-fired generation in China is expected to drop by about 25% by 2030. India, however, lags behind China in improving its coal-fired fleet efficiency. Currently there are only two SC PC plants under construction with imported technology. Given that high ash content in the Indian coal poses specific problems in using off-the-shelf advanced generation technologies, indigenous technology development and adaptation will be the key in the short-term to achieve self-sufficiency in this area. Advanced technology based on imported coal might be an option for India [44]. Given that India has significant lignite resources, RD&D efforts needs to be focused in the short-to-medium term on developing a supercritical cycle based on circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) of lignite. In order to diversify its energy portfolio, Mexico is embarking on increasing its coal-fired generation capacity. Planning for coal-fired plants based on advanced steam cycle with efficiency as high as 45% can result in significant reduction in resource use and low GHG emissions for Mexico.

According to the reference scenario of IEA's 2008 World Energy Outlook, 75% of the projected global increase in energy-related CO2 emissions to 2030 comes from China, India, and the Middle East, and electricity-related emissions for nonOECD emissions in 2030 are expected to double from 6.5 Gt in 2006 [6]. The business-as-usual projected increase in energy-related CO2 emissions to 2030, assuming no new global or regional climate policies, is consistent with atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 660-790 ppm CO2 by 2100, which can lead to an equilibrium temperature rise about 6°C above pre-industrial levels [6]. Clearly, such high temperature rises would be catastrophic, and hence mitigation of energy-related CO2 emissions (especially emissions from coal-power plants) is inevitable over the next few decades.

Hence, the introduction of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) to new power plants will likely be take place sooner than later in China and India, and perhaps even in the NGCC plants in Mexico. A recent estimate has shown that CCS would be required globally for coal, gas, and oil plants by 2050, with rapid expansion of CCS technologies by 2100. It is estimated that about 70 million tons of CO2 would be stored by 2020, rising to 600 million tons by 2050 and 6,000 million tons by 2100 [45].

China and India have both taken some initial steps in this direction, particularly in developing and demonstrating new gasification technologies for power generation. China has started construction of three demonstration plants that will use integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology. It has developed its own gasifiers, with focus on using it for chemicals production. The characteristics of Indian coal prevent the use of standard gasification technologies [20] and hence have been developing fluidized bed gasifier that is more amenable to Indian coals. India has plans for a pilot scale facility using these gasifiers in an IGCC plant. Scientists and engineers in both countries are also now beginning to do research on economically viable carbon capture technologies. However, it is unlikely that aggressive efforts will be directed at research, development, and deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology before the demonstration and deploying of CCS in industrialized countries. Even in industrialized countries, full-scale deployment of CCS requires a major effort in demonstration of economic viability of CCS, initiating the development of infrastructure for transport and storage of CO2, and creating legal and regulatory frameworks [6]. Moreover, the timing and nature of a post-Kyoto international climate treaty will determine the pace of CCS deployment both in industrialized and developing countries [46] Some of the other key CCS issues for China and India include support for financing and reducing financial cost of CCS, joint research and development of new capture technologies as well as for adapting these technologies to the local context, and detailed assessment of storage sites. Once a viable CCS technology is demonstrated, the manufacturing prowess of China can help bring down the cost of this technology significantly.

The need for detailed storage assessment for CCS is an important issue and needs to be emphasized, as early action is critical for future deployment of CCS. The amount of storage in oil and gas reservoirs is limited and geological underground storage in saline reservoirs is currently the most promising option for storing large quantities of CO2. However, storage in geological media requires detailed assessments of specific storage locations and capacity within these locations. Only broad first-of-a-kind estimates of storage capacity are currently available in both India and China, and there is a strong need for detailed site-specific assessment of storage mechanisms and capacity in potential on-shore and offshore locations. Furthermore, first-of-a-kind CCS need to be more conservative in their choice of reservoirs as a successful and safe first-of-a-kind CCS plants are critical for larger scale deployment in the future. Hence, it is important to embark on such detailed assessments, as well as relevant demonstration projects, as early as possible in order to inform any siting decisions of new coal power plants [46].

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