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.