Page 48 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2014
P. 48
Summer 2014 European Energy Innovation


Environmental sustainability

Development through demonstration in Puertollano IGCC Power Plant

By Francisco García Peña, Engineering R&D Director, and Pedro Casero, R&D Department, ELCOGAS S.A.

Puertollano, March 1998.
The main coal gas control
valve started to open while
simultaneously closing
the natural gas valve, and after
1 minute of this process (called
“switch-over”), the Puertollano IGCC
Power Plant officially started the
production of electricity through
gasification of autochthonous coal
and refinery residue. This event
marked a world milestone in clean
energy production from fossil fuel:
the biggest (317 MWe) single-train
Integrated Gasification Combined
Cycle Plant (IGCC), which uses
exclusively European technology.

EC considers this installation as a ELCOGAS is the clear example formulae ruling the energy market
“demonstration plant”, a label that showing this type of plant cannot in Spain have led ELCOGAS’
recognizes its high technological be viable by itself. A 1st generation shareholders to absorb recurring
risk. For 16 years ELCOGAS, the demonstration plant has a capital economic losses, and now no
company created by European cost which is 30-50% higher than formula at all is defined beyond 31st
utilities to build, exploit and subsequent generations, and also December 2014. The regulatory
technologically develop this plant, has an extra cost derived from support required is in the range
has worked to make it cleaner, more the valuable but costly learning of 70-90 €/MWh, which is at the
efficient, and more economically process gathered during its lifetime. lower end of the most recent
sustainable. A net efficiency of This, in many cases, can be only support allocated in Spain to
42.1% has been demonstrated, applied to following designs. That efficient technologies or renewable
higher than any other existing is, it requires a regulatory support energies (80-350 €/MWh) to reward
technology with similar fuel. rewarding the positive features of their environmental performance
Emissions performance has the technology, as happens with or by reason of their development
surpassed both designed values renewable energies, carbon capture stage. Without this support
and current legislation (see picture). & storage, and other technologies in ELCOGAS will not be viable.
Other environmental benefits development. During the gestation
have also been demonstrated, such of ELCOGAS, the strategy designed And who truly benefits from this
as: inert process residues (most to overcome these hurdles support? Neither the operator nor
of them by-products), zero liquid consisted of a partial funding from the owners, but European suppliers
discharge, and ease of blending the EU during its construction such as Air Liquide, ThyssenKrupp,
biomass, municipal wastes, and and the support of the Spanish Siemens, Johnson Matthey, and a
other industrial residues together regulated market. large list of European technological
with the usual fuel. companies, as well as, European,
Unfortunately, this strategy national and local services
This venture also offers relevant encountered major difficulties companies and research centres.
insight on economic values, the in 1998 when the transition to a Ultimately, European entities who
main outcome being the efficient liberalized market entered into can export knowledge-based
use of fuels, which leads to the force. Since then, the different products. l
remarkably low variable cost of
21.2 €/MWh (2013 average),
unrivalled by any other thermal
production alternatives. Moreover,
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