British firm to demonstrate clean coal breakthrough

Posted: 21 February 2008

A new technology for carbon capture on coal-fired power plants, was announced this week by Doosan Babcock Energy company.

The £7.4M project, supported by the UK Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and a group of industrial sponsors and university partners, will involve modification of Doosan Babcock's unique Multi Fuel Burner Test Rig at Renfrew in Scotland to accommodate Oxyfuel firing on pulverised coal with recycled flue gas.

It will demonstrate the operation of a full scale 40 MW burner for use in coal-fired boilers, suitable both for new power plants being built aound the world and for retrofit applications. Malcolm Wicks, UK Energy Minister said "The Government is strongly committed to reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels. We have already implemented a series of measures aimed at moving towards widespread deployment of cleaner fossil fuel technologies. Research and technology development projects such as the Oxyfuel demonstration, are an integral part of our strategy to promote the use of cleaner fossil fuels across the globe in order to tackle climate change."

CO2 capture using oxyfuel combustion
CO2 capture using oxyfuel combustion
CO2 capture using oxyfuel combustion. Photo credit Bellona Foundation
Iain Miller, CEO, Doosan Babcock said: “Our conceptual design for Oxyfuel CO2 capture coal power plant is based on a wealth of experience of air-fired coal power generation technology. This evolutionary approach to Oxyfuel CO2 capture gives us confidence that this technology can be successfully commercialised. By working with our partners on this new project we will be able to gain the knowledge necessary to accelerate the implementation of clean coal technology projects in the UK and around the world”

Commenting on this development, energy analyst, author and Chatham House Fellow on the subject, Walt Patterson, told this website: "The concept is technically attractive, but this is very early days. Even if it proves feasible, you then have to capture the CO2 and dispose of it - two additionally demanding stages.

"Around the world people are going to use coal, willy-nilly. This could be a way to reduce the climate impact. But it has a long way to go. I wish them well; but I'm worried lest these activities divert funds and political commitment away from more important immediate measures, especially upgrading our energy service infrastructure."

To read about Walt Patterson's latest book 'Keeping the Lights On: Towards Sustainable Electricity' click:here

UK coal plant warning

Commenting on the proposed Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent, the World Development Movement warns that it will release more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere than Ghana’s total carbon emissions each year.

Benedict Southworth, director of WDM said:“It is absolutely vital that the government thinks twice before going for coal. There must be a full and transparent public inquiry before the government gives Kingsnorth the green light. The fact that the government is backing a new coal-fired power station that would release more harmful carbon into the air than Ghana, which has a population of 22 million people, is deeply alarming and completely incompatible with the need to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by more than 80% to avoid disastrous climate change.

“The government is relying on carbon capture and storage technology to try to make a dirty industry clean, but this technology isn’t available yet. This seems like a risky strategy at best.

“Energy and climate change policies must work towards the same end goal of avoiding dangerous climate change. If the government continues down this contradictory policy path, climate change will continue unabated and millions of people in the developing world will lose their lives and their livelihoods.”

WDM, with other campaigning organisations are calling for a public inquiry into the proposed Kingsnorth coal-fired power station. For more information, go to www.stopkingsnorth.org.uk