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« Powerspan & FirstEnergy Pilot Carbon Capture & Sequestration Process | Main | The Evolutionary Power Reactor »

June 02, 2006



35% is roughly as good as the best powdered-coal combustion powerplants.  If we can get the same fuel consumption but with complete sequestration, that's a big plus.

Jim from The Energy Blog

I have found out, much to my suprise, that 35% may be the efficiency of most coal powered power plants in the U.S. Back in 1960, when I was a young engineer, they were building some new plants with 39% efficiency and I understand that in Europe some are now being built at 45%. Appearently the lowest cost of electricity in the U.S. is reached with an efficiency of about 35%. The optimum must have decreased because the cost of construction has increased at a higher rate than the cost of coal. Nuclear has even higher costs of construction. To compete with nuclear, coal powered plants must be built to provide the lowest cost of electricity. The price of coal has increased (I believe doubled) in the last year and is bound to increase more in the future as demand increases and mining costs increase.

That is why IGCC plants are not in favor, in that they cost more even though they are more efficient. As long as emission standards favor conventional plants and the cost of coal is not the predominate factor in the price of coal, conventional plants will predominate.

Carl from Heliotropic

The added energy involved in producing enough pure O2 to run this process must do a number on the overall efficiency.


If you look at the average heat rate of thermal plants in the US, it is consistent with approximately 33% efficiency.  I don't know where people are getting these higher figures from; maybe they're the optimal numbers for the plants, but they sure don't seem to be run that way.

Oxygen-blown IGCC does take an efficiency hit from the air separation plant, but you get that back.  The Wabash River plant was hardly optimized (gas turbine smaller than optimal, steam turbine was 1950's vintage and left over from the converted plant) but it still breaks 40% when running on petroleum coke.  You get near-complete cleanup of sulfur, NOx and particulates in the deal, and carbon sequestration is far simpler and cheaper than with other plants.


Our local coal fired powerplant here in Aalborg, Denmark has an efficiency higher than 45%, I think it's 47%. It's a CHP plant, so the total thermal efficiency is 91%! According to their own website, it's the world's most efficient coal fired powerplant.

Let's take a look at the economics of an Oxyfuel plant:

One metric ton of coal (Danish power plant specification (expensive coal)) yeilds:

2445 kWh
3.78 tonnes (metric) CO2.

After a little calculation, I arrive at 4-6 Euro cents per kWh for carbon sequestration, using Jim's range above. That corresponds to 5-7.5 cents (dollars), i.e. higher than the cost of wind power! And that's just the cost of sequestration, the cost of the power comes on top of that.

I welcome plants such as this Oxyfuel one because it puts the cost of renewable (clean) energy in a whole new perspective.

Not much chance that USA will sequester CO2 anytime soon, though... "It's not good for the economy"


Paul Dietz

It's my understanding that advanced chemical looping plants are projected to be cheaper than oxyfuel plants. They don't require a dedicated oxygen separation plant, but they can produce nearly pure CO2.


Well written nice blog.Thanks for information.


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How do plants dispose of the oxygen they generate? Like, you know how everyone is like "plants are good because they breath in carbon dioxide and breath out oxygen?" Well where exactly does it "breath out" the oxygen? Then what happens to the glucose that the plant produces by breathing in the Carbon Dioxide? Thanks!


This carbon dioxide and oxygen issue goes on and on! But it's good that it is out in the open.

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