HELE Coal Fired Power Plants

High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) Coal Fired Power Plants

coal fired power plant

Given the importance of low-carbon energy generation, it is critical that we are made aware of all the good work being done in developing very high efficiency, low-emissions coal fired power plant technologies. Despite rapid advances in renewables, there is no foreseeable way to make the sun shine 24 hours a day, and there is no way to predict when there will be wind.

Coal-fired power plants will remain an important source of electricity for a long time, particularly in countries that appear to be allergic to nuclear or gas-fired power.

However, sticking with coal-fired technology does not mean you are missing out on anything; in fact, there is some very exciting news in this space.

The new coal-fired power plants are extremely efficient and produce very little pollution.

The newest technology offerings, the High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) Coal Fired Plants, are capable of operating at 50% efficiency and getting better all the time.

The old technology coal fired power plants built over 50 years ago were around 35-40% efficient.

HELE Coal Fired Power Plants Advancements.

High Efficiency Low Emissions Coal-fired power plants can generate more electricity than the older technology plants while using less fuel (coal), emitting less carbon, emitting less local air pollutants, consuming less water, and leaving a smaller footprint.

We must understand that research and development with coal-fired power plants is ongoing; it has never stopped and will continue for many years. Coal-fired power plants will continue to improve their efficiencies, not only to meet environmental goals, but also for economic reasons. 

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) will undoubtedly enter the picture, assisting power generators in meeting the requirements of a low-carbon future.

You may be pleased to learn that by combining carbon capture and storage with high efficiency low emissions coal-fired power plants, we can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90%.

Supercritical, Ultra-Critical & Advanced Ultra-Critical Technologies

New pulverised coal combustion systems employ supercritical, ultra-supercritical, and, more recently, advanced ultra-supercritical technologies. Advanced ultra-supercritical technology is without a doubt the way of the future for coal-fired power plants. New technology combustion systems operate at extremely high temperatures and pressures, resulting in massive CO2 reductions.

Supercritical steam cycle technology is not new, but the most recent and advanced ultra-supercritical technology is how we can now have 50-60% efficiency coal fired power plants, and even higher in the coming years. The Ultra & Advanced Ultra-supercritical coal fired power plants are incredible achievements, and I’m confident that if power generators collaborate with brain trusts like the CSIRO, they can improve even more. It would be fantastic if 65 percent efficiency could be achieved by 2033.

There aren’t many HELE plants around yet, but some research is being done to see if older plants can use supercritical steam cycle technology. Optimizing the efficiency of existing plants is costly, but as a minimum, power generators are looking at heat integration improvements, upgrading steam turbines and boilers, and installing advanced control and monitoring systems.

Older coal-fired power plants built several decades ago use subcritical boilers, which operate below the thermodynamic critical point of water, which is 22.1 megapascals. HELE plants, on the other hand, use vessels that operate at pressures greater than 22.1 megapascals, which are known as supercritical vessels.

In a subcritical boiler, the phase between the feedwater and the steam changes noticeably. However, in a supercritical vessel, the feedwater doesn’t have to go through a distinct boiling phase; instead, it instantly transforms into a supercritical fluid that is identical to steam. Due to the instantaneous phase change, supercritical vessels do not need a drum to separate steam from feedwater. You’ll notice that we don’t refer to the vessel used in the supercritical process as a “supercritical boiler” because there isn’t any actual boiling taking place there.

Ultra-supercritical and advanced ultra-critical vessels function similarly to supercritical vessels, but at higher temperatures, reaching temperatures above 600-700°C. These supercritical ultra-supercritical and advanced ultra-supercritical plants can produce more energy from each individual unit of coal because they operate at higher temperatures and pressures than subcritical plants.

Burning Coal is not a perfect solution but we are getting very good at it.

Aside from CO2, any standard coal-burning process releases sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other particulate matter into the atmosphere. This brings me to another reason why HELE plants outperform older plants: they use a variety of cutting-edge combustion optimisation and flue gas treatment technologies to virtually eliminate these pollutants.

As previously stated, research and development never stops and we now have even newer advancements with the latest advanced ultra-supercritical plants.  It’s just a shame we never seem to ever hear about all the work going on in this area.

Researchers are constantly coming up with better nickel alloys capable of withstanding even higher temperatures and pressures than ultra-supercritical plants.   Nickel alloys are used because Nickel maintains its corrosion resistant properties even at the highest imaginable temperatures.  

As if all of this exciting news wasn’t enough, advanced ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants can generate electricity even when the sun isn’t shining and there’s no wind. If your country requires constant, dependable electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, No Wind No Sun (NWNS) power generation technology is essential.

Australia’s energy crisis did not happen overnight.

For some strange reason, Australia has never been able to accept that technology becomes better over a 50 year period.   I know it sounds strange but it’s true, even with some of the smartest scientists on the planet, Australia just cannot seem to comprehend that technology improves over time.

Case and point is Coal Fired Power Stations in Australia.  

1.     Australians are now watching some 50 year Coal Fired Power old plants now being decommissioned in Australia.

2.    What Australians are not getting to watch is brand new Coal Fired Plants being built in their place.

The apparent reason for not building new Coal Fired Power Plants is that the technology associated with the plants that were commissioned in 1971 is not what Australia are looking for in 2023.

Australia’s logic of not being in love with technology built in 1971 does not pass the pub test because the GTHO Phase III Falcon was built in 1971.   A $5,000 in 1971 will now cost you $1.3 Million in 2023.   So there must be something ok about 1971?

Sure if you want something that goes around corners like its on rails, can stop on a dime and travel 0 to 100km in 5 seconds, then naturally, you will want a sports car that is being built in 2023.  You will want the latest and greatest technology on 4 wheels.

With that in mind, would this not be the same with Coal Fired Power Stations (CFPS) in 2023?   Would it not be the case that a 2023 CFPS could drastically outperform a CFPS built in 1971?

Now let’s imagine that we build a 2023 version of the Phase 3 GTHO.  We’ll retain all the things we love about the 1971 vehicle but we will build it will all the latest materials, it will have the best components and accessories on the market and will embrace the absolute best technology available on this planet.    We will run it on E85 and we will even offer a hybrid version.

I’m guessing that this would be an absolutely brilliant vehicle?

Dear Ford CEO, if you are reading this article, please build a right hand drive version of this car and get them on their way to Australia ASAP!

High Efficiency Low Emissions Coal Fired Power Stations that embrace Advanced Ultra-Critical Technologies is what I see as the 2023 version of the 1971 GTHO Phase III Falcon.

Australia needs to stop listening to the wrong people when it comes to producing electricity or Ford Falcons.

If you want to learn about Ford Falcons, then go and speak to a Ford Falcon Expert with an Automotive Engineering Degree, not a semi-retired green grocer that studied either philosophy or the history of conceptual art in Eastern Europe from 1301 to 1318.

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