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GE Power global sales and marketing leader for steam power systems, Michael Keroullé, admits that coal is a “hard sell”, particularly following the COP 21 climate agreement inParis last year. However, he tells Engineering News Onlinethat GE is ready to help “change the narrative” having recently launched its ‘Smarter. Cleaner. Steam Power’ initiative, which punts high-efficiency solutions, overlain with digital systems, to lower the environmental impact ofcoal-fired plants.
However, it cannot be “business as usual”. For coal to receive political and financial backing, utilities and private developers will need to embrace higher-efficiency plants, which produce fewer greenhouse gases for every ton burnt and emit far lower levels of pollutants, such as sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
By way of example, Keroullé points to the 2 400 MW Hassyan clean-coal power project, to be built in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, by an independent power producer. The plant embraces ultra-supercritical technology, able to achieveefficiency levels of better than 47% – well ahead of the global average of 33%. Interestingly, the plant is expected to operate using coal sourced from South Africa and sell electricity at US5c/kWh.
“If all existing coal plants achieved just 40% efficiency, the impact on CO2 emissions would already be considerable, at around 2 Gt annually,” he says, arguing that 50% efficiencyacross the coal power plant fleet would be a “game changer”.
Besides marketing clean coal in South Africa, GE is focusing on supporting its existing boilers and turbines, which make up about 85% of the Eskom coal-fired fleet. It is working with the State-owned utility to help it recover its energyavailability to its stated target of 80% and is also in early-stage talks on possibly integrating digital solutions to improve plant operations and environmental performance.
GE Power is also working with some potential bidders forSouth Africa’s possible new nuclear build programme.
“We are aware of the controversy about the cost of thenuclear programme, but we still believe it is important to have an energy mix and nuclear can be an important component as a long-term, stable low-cost contributor to that mix. In addition, as the country renews the fleet of coalplants, it’s a good idea to consider nuclear.”(source: Miningweekly)