Phase I Results Summary

In Phase I the CCPC produced conceptual engineering and feasibility studies, undertaken from mid 2001 to early 2004.  The CCPC established a goal to develop projects to demonstrate technology at a commercial utility scale for retrofit to existing plants, or for use in new coal fired power plants, that would allow all emissions, including CO2, to be controlled to meet all foreseeable new regulatory requirements.  The emission targets were set to allow a coal-fired plant to be as clean as a modern natural gas fired gas turbine plant.  The goal was to do this while maintaining overall efficiency at or above current levels, maintaining costs competitive with other generation technologies and enabling the CO2 to be captured. 

The objective of the conceptual engineering and feasibility studies was to determine the most appropriate technologies for demonstration.  Implementation plans, preliminary designs and cost estimates were developed for those technologies, recognizing the geographical variability of coal: western lignite and sub-bituminous coals, and eastern bituminous coals. 

The results of the research studies carried out showed that there are technologies currently available and under development to control conventional air emissions (NOx, SOx, particulates, mercury) from coal-fired power plants to levels approaching that of natural gas power generation.

The fundamental principle underlying the goals of the CCPC was to identify a process that would produce electricity from coal in some fashion and that would also provide a relatively pure stream of CO2 that could be captured, further processed as necessary, and subsequently used or stored. 

Phase I of the CCPC project also included an evaluation of CO2 utilization and storage options in western Canada that could be used to offset the costs of collecting CO2 from power plants.  It created an inventory and characterization of storage and utilization options developed from a literature review.  The study also compiled the factors, on a regional basis, that impact various utilization options, including an evaluation of capital and operating costs of each option, acknowledging issues such as purity, contaminants and pressures required for each option.  

Phase I studies showed that:

  • Emission control technologies can be used to control air emissions from coal plants to levels approaching that of natural gas power plants.
  • The Western Sedimentary Basin provides storage capacity for a vast amount of CO2 in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. Storage opportunities and capacities for the Ontario and Maritime regions are less well understood. Transportation and storage of CO2 is also a challenge to a demonstration project.  The reports suggest that either EOR or geological storage are the best options, and that these choices are available principally in western Canada. 
  • The cost of clean coal technologies is high and further work is required to optimize designs.
  • Gasification may provide the lowest cost of power compared to amine scrubbing or oxyfuel; however, gasification requires significant development to improve availability levels.
  • Gasification technology is a mature technology in the chemical and petrochemical industries, but is not mature for power plant applications using sub-bituminous and lignite coals as a feed stock.
  • Oxyfuel technology is not a mature technology.  Many issues remain in how to develop this technology for production purposes.  Any application of the technology to an existing power plant would be expensive, could involve significant operational problems, and appears not to be a cost effective way of demonstrating CO2 capture and storage. 
  • Ongoing developments of amine scrubbing processes have achieved substantial improvements in energy efficiency. Further refinements are possible and need to be compared with other processes to optimize the process selection.
  • A the time of this study, amine scrubbing technology provides the greatest opportunity for a demonstration project in that it is mature technology in its own right, and has few issues to satisfy before one could develop a high degree of confidence of success.  It also has the advantage of being able to be applied as a retrofit to an existing facility to be built at any capacity level from 0% to 100%.
  • The study concluded that while it would appear that currently gasification technology has the greatest attraction for the future, amine scrubbing presents the case of the most mature technology, coupled with some of the lower costs of electricity and the lowest risks.  In addition, it provides the opportunity to design and construct a plant in which the amine process could be de-coupled from the power generation plant, and provide the greatest operational flexibility should significant problems be encountered with the process. 

Executive Summary of Phase 1 Results