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Business & Economics :: Latest News

March 20, 2008

IGCC plant celebrates 10 years of operation

Gerald Ondrey

Elcogas S.A., a company owned by the Spanish energy group ENDESA, together with other European utilities (EDF, Iberdrola, EDP, ENEL) will celebrate 10 years’ operation of its integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) power plant in March 2008. The plant in Puertollano, Spain, is regarded as the world’s biggest IGCC power plant with a net output of 300 MWe. It is based on Uhde GmbH’s (Dortmund, Germany; www.uhde.biz) integrated Prenflo gasification process for petroleum coke and coal feedstocks. The gasification plant came on-stream in March 1998 (CE, September 1998, pp. 35–40) and has since been generating extremely environment-friendly power and valuable by-products.

IGCC power plant technology has a number of advantages as they are more efficient than conventional coal-fired steam power plants and emit less CO2, in particular when biomass is used. In addition, Uhde’s proprietary Prenflo gasification process is also ideally suited to the combined gasification of a wide range of potential feedstocks, such as coal, petroleum coke from refinery residues and biomass.

In IGCC power plants the solid feedstock is first converted into raw gas (synthesis gas) in a gasifier. This gas is then cleaned prior to combustion in a gas turbine. The heat evolved is then used to generate steam to drive a steam turbine. The two turbines each drive an electricity generator. At the same time, key chemical and petrochemical products, even including synthetic fuels, can also be produced from the synthesis gas generated and CO2 can simply be extracted for sequestration. At Elcogas’s IGCC plant in Puertollano, some 200km south of Madrid, petroleum coke from an adjacent refinery is blended with locally mined coal with an ash content of more than 40%. This is then gasified in the subsequent pressurised entrained-flow gasification (Prenflo) process by adding oxygen, and used to generate power.

“In the past 10 years, we have successfully demonstrated the viability of the world’s biggest and most environment-friendly IGCC plant with integrated Prenflo gasification, and we expect to continue the demonstration of the various possibilities that IGCC technology offers in the field of environment friendly solutions in the near future” said Ignacio Méndez de Vigo, Chief Executive Officer of Elcogas.

“In the face of high crude oil and natural gas prices, coal will play an ever greater role in power generation and as a feedstock for the chemical industry – especially in countries with large coal reserves. Uhde has many years’ experience in coal gasification and coal chemistry and offers a variety of processes in these fields. We congratulate Elcogas on their achievement and hope that other companies will follow this example of the innovative application of technology,” said Karsten Radtke, head of Uhde’s gas technologies division.

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