Mississippi Power’s integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant in Kemper County, Miss., on October 12 has begun generating its first power using a combination of syngas (produced from locally mined lignite) and natural gas.

The milestone is a major one, said Thomas Fanning, CEO of Mississippi Power’s parent company Southern Co. “After decades of research and years of hard work at the site, we are thrilled that the Kemper County energy facility, the world’s most advanced coal plant, has generated electricity using syngas,” he said.

According to Mississippi Power, the generation of electricity with syngas requires the integrated operation of the plant’s gas cleanup system and associated gasifier, which has been operating since the middle of September. The clean syngas is then sent to one of the plant’s combustion turbine electric generators, which have operated on natural gas since 2014.

Generating first power is part of the plant start-up process. It will continue to “involve testing on syngas, natural gas or a combination of both as progress continues toward commercial operation,” the company said.

The next major milestone will involve production of power from the project’s second gasifier, operating both combustion turbines using all syngas. It will be followed by complete integration of the project’s systems leading to full commercial operation.

Southern Co. earlier this month said the 582-MW plant, which will also capture its carbon emissions and transport them via pipeline infrastructure for use in enhanced oil recovery, would likely be placed in service by November 30.

The first-of-its-kind project has been stricken with steep cost increases and delays. Total project costs have now climbed to $6.9 billion—or nearly $2.58 billion more than a cost cap approved by Mississippi regulators in 2012.

 

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)