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November 25, 2006


David Marcus

The excitement over IGCC is a result of fine marketing by its proponents (e.g. GE). Conventional pulverized coal plants can be made to meet the same emissions levels as IGCC plants (including CO2) at much lower cost.


Part of the reason why it's been so hard for California to get the renewable energy that enjoys broad bipartisan support statewide is how our bureaucracy is set up. In order for new energy projects to get approved they have to go through _two_ separate state agencies with very different masses of red tape.

Here's an article from last September on the topic.

It's the state's own fault. They want more renewable energy, but they put so many regulatory hurtles in front of these projects that nothing gets built.


Including CO2, David?  How can they do that, when the scrubber systems for a PCC plant consume power while the scrubber systems for an IGCC plant only have to process a small volume of high-pressure fuel gas?  You'd have to have much greater thermal efficiency from the PCC plant, which is a big stretch when the IGCC plant has combined-cycle operation going for it.

Remember, coal production across the USA is maxed out or close to it.  You can reduce net CO2 emissions with carbon capture, but if that comes at lower efficiency you will have to reduce your net generation.

There's also the issue of future improvement.  The IGCC plant can convert to a fuel-cell topping cycle.  What can the PCC plant do?  It doesn't have the fuel processing facilities to feed an SOFC or MCFC.


I've just got an idea: why not do direct sequestration of ALL of the flue gasses a coal plant produces? wouldnt that be much more energy-cost efficient?


"Siting for the wind power plants will be especially difficult with current climate in California, pending any revision of siting proceedures."

Good point (as usual) Jim.

That leaves offshore floating wind/wave power platforms as the one practical alternative. 10 miles offshore they would be invisible from land.

The guarantee of low cost power for decades would more than offset the initial cost.

A crash program of concentrating trough collectors that produce electricity and heat would also be cost effective. Will the venture capitalists (who started the internet boom) from Silicon Valley take on these projects?

With sufficient tax credits I think they would. Tax credits to consumers to buy the wind/wave power and solar installations for their homes and businesses.

And conservation in the form of geothermal cooling instead of regular air conditioning. Air conditioning is the grid breaking load. And concentrating solar trough collectors block the solar heat that boosts that cooling load.

I think IGCC ought to be leapfrogged, straight to solid oxide fuel cell/turbine grid power plants. California is the new "dairy" state and all that manure could be turned into biogas to feed these fuel cell plants. With pulverized coal as the backup energy source, it can run in the same fuel cells.

Then rather than sequestration by pumping the cO2 underground (expensive, impractical, and unverifiable)it ought to be processed in algae growing solar collector biofuel systems. With biodiesel as a valuable byproduct.

If California leads the way the rest of US will follow.

Michael Cain

Then rather than sequestration by pumping the cO2 underground (expensive, impractical, and unverifiable)it ought to be processed in algae growing solar collector biofuel systems.

But you're going to burn the biofuel, no? So the CO2 still ends up in the atmosphere? Granted, you've reduced the amount of coal you use (I suspect that if you calculate the volumes needed, there will still be plenty of coal being burned), but you haven't stopped.


Well half of the weight of the algae is veggie oil, and is turned into biodisel and half is run through the fuel cell/turbine system. Yeilds of 10s of thousands of gallons of biodiesel per acre have been reported using algae in solar collectors.

The CO2 from the biodiesel is released. But with a fuel cell plugin hybrid that biodisel is consumed at an average of 10 times the mileage per gallon, cutting CO2 emmision from cars by 90%.

And the portion of the algae run through the fuel cell/turbine power plant has all it's cO2 emmisions sent back through the algae solar system.

And by converting the biogas from the animal waste into CO2 and electricty in the fuel cell/turbine power plant, that methane in the biogas that is 20 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas is converted to CO2 that runs through the algae systyem. That more than makes up for the biodiesel cO2 release.

Plus the biodiesel part of the system makes fuel farming obsolete, freeing up crop land to turn into conservation reserve land that sequesters CO2 as cellulose. That organic matter builds up the soil (depleted due to chemical agriculture) helping to prevent another dust bowl.

Jim from The Energy Blog

See Pulverized Coal vs Coal Gasification for a discussion of the pros and cons of the two technologies.

Paul Dietz

I don't think pulverized coal plants with flue gas CO2 capture are competitive with IGCC, but there's a new CO2 capture technology that could change this.


Michael Cain:  The soi-disant doctor can't balance an equation, as you noticed.

But I've got a system I believe would do the job (and even go carbon-negative); if you'd like to look over my math, please have at it.


My name is Steve and I am interested in implementing biomass (biogas) technology for my home. I live on approximately .25 acre with the option to purchase an additional .5 acre. Yes I live in the city, but I like the idea of using the technology. A few questions:
-I am looking for companies in the Intermtn area that can help me with a pre-feasiblity study. Can anyone provide a handful of companies that might assist me?
-from your experience, do cities heavily regulate these systems?
-what are the average costs involved in implenting the technology?

My interest is to have a biomass generator which will heat my home and provide electricity.

Thank you in advance for your assistance...

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