Swedish energy giant Vattenfall inaugurated construction site of the world's first CO2-free coal-fired power plant, a 30 MW Oxyfuel pilot plant (previous post), scheduled to go into operation in 2008. Vattenfall, has invested 50 million euros ($65 million) in the facility, which will emit no greenhouse gases.
The plant uses the Oxyfuel Oxyfuel process which burns coal in a pure oxygen environment producing a flue gas that is mostly carbon dioxide and water. The water can be condensed and the remaining nearly pure carbon dioxide collected for sequestration.
One of the biggest advantages of the new process is the availability of coal, stocks of which in Germany should last for another century. However their are a few drawbacks to the process, for one, the efficiency is lower than in conventional coal plants. Traditional coal plants can run as high as 45 percent efficiency (maybe in Europe but not in the U.S.), while the the Oxyfuel process, is about 35 percent efficient. Experts estimate the costs for separating and storing a ton of CO2 at from 25 to 40 euros which is less expensive than other methods of CO2 capture and storage, which in part makes up for the low efficiency of the process.
If the technology works once the pilot plant is built, Vattenfall wants to build a 300-megawatt facility by around 2015. Estimates are that the technology could be commercially viable by around 2020.
Resource: Germany Breaks Ground on First Non-Polluting Coal Power Plant, Deutsche Welle, April 29, 2006