Tampa Electric yesterday announced that it no longer plans to meet its 2013 need for baseload generation through the use of integrated gasification combined-cycle technology, or IGCC. Primary drivers of the decision announced today include continued uncertainty related to carbon dioxide (CO2) regulations, particularly capture and sequestration issues, and the potential for related project cost increases. Because of the economic risk of these factors to customers and investors, the company believes it should not proceed with an IGCC project at this time.
The company remains steadfast in its support of IGCC as a critical component of future fuel diversity in Florida and the nation, and believes the technology is the most environmentally responsible way to utilize coal, an affordable, abundant and domestically produced fuel. Tampa Electric is recognized as the world leader in the production of electricity from IGCC. The company also believes that IGCC technology offers the best platform to capture and then sequester CO2. Once public policy issues regarding long-term sequestration are resolved, demonstration projects can be conducted that will lead to a better understanding of the science, technologies and economics of sequestration.
“We believe there is a role for IGCC in Tampa Electric’s future generation plans, but with the uncertainty of carbon capture and sequestration regulations being discussed at the federal and state levels, the timing is not right to utilize it for a baseload facility needed by 2013. We are not prepared to expose our customers and shareholders to that risk.” - President Chuck Black
This is but one of the many coal fired power plants that have been either canceled or put on hold - but this is the first IGCC plant I have heard of that has been canceled. Power companies are coming under more pressure to put in environmentally friendly power plants, but the government has not moved on any regulations that require any restriction on CO2 emissions. Several power companies have said they would back carbon capture and sequestration requirements, but they do not want to put in such plants unless their is an even playing field regarding such requirements.
Perhaps the recent development of technologies that can be applied to conventional coal fired power plants is one consideration affecting their decision. Nuclear power is probably the safest route to go as far as not having to worry about CO2 emissions, but its capital expense is still very high and even though the approval process has been simplified, that is yet to be demonstrated in the real world. Natural gas is also a fairly safe route, but future costs of natural gas are quite uncertain.
Renewable energy, especially for large base load plants is not generally accepted as the answer. I would think with TECO's load growing at 150 megawatts per year it might be possible to establish a policy of installing renewable energy incrementally to meet its needs. Florida is situated where solar power, offshore wind and someday wave power might be considered. By installing a mix of renewable energy technologies which have different time periods of peak output, the resulting power production is considerably leveled out to provide a more continuous flow of power. Solar, with about four hours of storage, matches the peak load for most areas. The large load for air conditioning and a fairly small industrial load would seem to me to make a good case for solar power in Florida. Florida Power and Light recently made a commitment to solar power, so at least one utility thinks Florida is a suitable location for solar power.