A meta-study on the feasibility of the implementation of new clean coal technologies to existing coal-fired power plants in an effort to decrease carbon emissions

Kenneth Davies
Abhishek Malik
Jimmy Li
Thiha Nanda Aung


The renewable energy sector has experienced an incredible growth in the last 15 years. The dependency on fossil fuel based power plants is still likely to continue well into the next half century. The global thermal efficiency of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) since the 1980s has largely remained stagnant at 30-39% (high heat value basis)(2). Recent advances in materials and thermodynamics technologies has allowed for the efficiency of new pilot plants to be increased to 45%, even beyond 50% in some cases(3). The manufacture of these new highly efficient ultra-supercritical (USC) steam cycle CFPPs is an economically and politically difficult prospect. Therefore, it is necessary to investigates methods to apply the thermodynamic improvements available in modern USC CFPPs to the currently operating majority of subcritical (SubC) power plants without a large overhaul in infrastructure i.e. through retrofitting. This meta study will provide an analysis in the trends of the overall and intra-system efficiency of CFPPs, the development new clean coal technologies, then discuss and conclude the feasibility of applying these processes to current power plant infrastructure. A thermodynamic analysis of the most promising clean coal technologies, i.e. advanced pulverized coal combustion systems, oxy-fuel, pre and post-combustion carbon capture systems, steam reheat cycles, co-firing systems, will allow the investigation into whether retrofitting current power plants will generate a significant increase in efficiency. Thereby allowing for the discussion of the viability of retrofitting for the reduction in CFPP carbon emissions and the recommendation of specific options.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/pamr.v4i0.1455

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