Several major power plants around the world began operations over the past months.
The 1,309-MW Claus C power plant showcases the successful repowering of an existing steam power plant by upgrading it and adding a highly efficient combined cycle plant that doubles the original plant’s power output for just a 35% increase in fuel consumption. In addition, the newly retrofitted plant is cutting CO2 emissions by 40% compared with a simple-cycle gas-fired plant of equal capacity.
The Dutch utility Eneco and the Danish energy group DONG Energy recently collaborated in building the 870-MW Enecogen Power Station that has a thermal efficiency above 59% and is designed for maximum operational flexibility. As part of Eneco’s strategy to lower emissions across its fleet, the combined cycle plant is designed to quickly compensate for intermittent power produced by the utility’s wind turbines.
Plentiful supplies of low-cost natural gas have changed unit dispatch orders across the U.S., led to thermal stress–induced maintenance issues at cycling coal plants, and resulted in management challenges at coal and gas units alike. This scenario is unlikely to change so long as gas holds its competitive edge over coal.
Droughts, unreliable gas imports, and protests against proposed projects have hampered the Chilean power sector and its largest economic driver, the copper-mining industry. Recent policies designed to foster more reliable supplies are a move in the right direction, but remaining obstacles are formidable.
Glow Energy’s 382-MW Glow Phase 5 power plant in Thailand exceeded early expectations by packing into a tightly constrained space more capacity than anyone thought possible. The plant’s engineering feat earns it recognition as a POWER Top Plant for 2012.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is known for its large fleet of coal-fired plants. With TVA’s renewed emphasis on nuclear power and gas-fired generation, the organization will soon fulfill its new goal: “to be one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost cleaner energy by 2020.” Construction of the 880-MW John Sevier Combined Cycle Plant puts TVA one step closer to achieving that goal.
The natural gas and electricity industries have entered into an increasingly codependent relationship as coal-fired electricity gives way to natural gas–fired generation. Both industries are firmly committed to providing reliable service, although each goes about its business in different ways. Utilities, regulators, and stakeholders are searching for ways to align interests and expectations.
The environmental push for renewables and mandates to force them into existence are rightly facing some serious headwinds. The American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011 foundered in Congress, and more states are experiencing significant power rate increases to cover renewable energy production costs. While renewables are generally not ready for prime time in large quantity on today’s power grid, that doesn’t mean environment concerns ought to be trashed, especially when a more effective off-the-shelf solution is available.
A new gas-fired power generation technology that uses an oxyfuel, high-pressure, supercritical carbon dioxide cycle and produces pipeline-ready carbon dioxide for sequestration or use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR), without reducing plant efficiency, garnered the interest of three new partners in June.