Wednesday, June 14

So What is IGCC, anyway?

IGCC, or "Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle" coal power plants are often cited by many in our community as a preferred alternative to the CFB, or "Circulating Fluidized Bed" plant that SMC is proposing to build here.

I am pretty darn ignorant of these technologies. I don't know that I, or many of the pundits speaking about this issue throughout our town, are particularly competent to compare these technologies.

Both are advertized by their supporters as "clean coal" technology. Those that I consider to have competence in this area have stated that IGCC may produce less emissions than CFB, but has not yet been fully tested. Everyone I have spoken with agrees that an IGCC plant would be significantly more expensive than a CFB plant.

The first link of this post refers to a November, 2005 article published by the BBC on IGCC technology. Thanks to Jeff Mangan's blog for the referral to this source. That article speaks at length about the IGCC technology, in a way that even I began to understand it. However, I was struck by a few things:

1) The technology is not a "zero emission" alternative, as its supporters have indicated. The carbon emissions are buried underground instead of vented in the atmosphere. Other waste by-products of the technology still require attention.

2) The technology is very new, and relatively untried. Indeed, the article states that:

Coal gasification plants are seen as a primary component of a zero-emissions system. However, the technology remains unproven on a widespread commercial scale.

For those of you with more expertise in this area, I welcome your experience. An upcoming post will provide more information on CFB technology.


Jeff Mangan said...

Let me start by saying I support the proposed plant and have since inception. The purpose of my post at MOTTO to point out the regional economic impact of coal. I have no doubt that the future of coal, and thus a large economic impact, lies with Clean Coal Technology (CCT) or IGCC. That can certainly include CFB.

TSJ has done a excellent job in the power plant posts. Nice work.

dona stebbins said...

One of the things I plan to do in the near future is visit the CFB plant in Kentucky that is virtually a mirror image of the plant that will be built here. I support the Highwood plant and look forward to the economic boost it will give our community. Of course, I want to see us build the cleanest possible plant, and SME is moving ahead.
When I spoke at the mercury rules hearing, I asked that the Board of Environmental Review factor in economic development, and not design rules so strict that they could not be met. I think balance is the key issue here, and I hope that it can be achieved amicably.

Treasure State Jew said...

Mayor Stebbins; I look forward to hearing your views about the plant in Kentucky. In particular, I am interested to know a) how long it has been in operation, b) the impact of the plant on the local economy and c) the results of any after-the-fact environmental studies on the effects of the plant.

Such informaiton would be very valuable.

Anonymous said...

But, is it God's holy will? Let us pray for guidance in this and all matters first.

Dona said...

I have posted about anonymous entries before...
"Nuff said - we have a nutter with nothing to add to the discussion - just trying to provoke. Let's get back to discussion, and pray that this person's higher being (or whomever) harvests him/her early.
Do we know where cowards go?