Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 15, 2002 — In a recent ceremony, government and industry officials in Jacksonville, Florida, Monday declared the nation’s newest clean coal power plant fully operational.
At a barbeque at the newly refurbished Northside Generating Station, officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and JEA, Jacksonville’s municipal utility, officially unveiled the results of a $630 million, 5-year effort to install clean coal technology in the 35-year old power station.
Equipped with new, state-of-the-art “circulating fluidized bed combustors,” the power station is now one of the cleanest burning coal plants in the world. Its two advanced combustors – the largest ever installed in a power plant – each generate 300 megawatts of power, enough to light over 250,000 average households.
The plant is not only cleaner than before, it now generates two-and-a-half times more power. Using coal instead of the more expensive oil and gas the plant previously burned is expected to help keep electric rates low and stable in the Jacksonville area.
“Coal supplies more than half of our nation’s electricity and is one of the reasons why American consumers benefit from some of the lowest electricity rates of any free-market economy,” said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in a statement issued from Washington. “The clean coal technology in the JEA plant shows that we can continue to benefit from coal’s economic advantages while we continue to clean our air. Because of successes like this, President Bush’s National Energy Policy sets us on course to make further investments in clean coal technology.”
The Northside facility has earned a 2002 Powerplant Award from POWER magazine. It is the 6th time an Energy Department clean coal project has received the award.
In 1996, JEA committed to the community to reduce pollutants from the Northside Station by at least 10 percent when it replaced two of the plant’s obsolete and inefficient oil- and gas-fired units. With the new clean coal technology, the utility will meet its pledge and at the same time generate significantly more power from the facility.
The Energy Department contributed more than $74 million to the project as one of the original projects under its Clean Coal Technology Program. The federal funding went to install one of the two combustors. JEA converted the second boiler entirely with its own funding.
Circulating fluidized bed combustors are relatively new for the electric power industry. While conventional coal-fired plants rely on large, expensive devices to clean pollutants from flue gases after they leave the boiler, a circulating fluidized bed plant reduces most of the pollutants inside the furnace as the coal burns.
Crushed limestone added to the coal as it enters the combustor captures 90 percent of the sulfur pollutants. The fluid motion of the coal as it burns – accounting for the name “fluidized bed” – also allows a “slow burn” that prevents the formation of nitrogen oxides, another air pollutant that can cause smog.
The Northside Station’s 12-story circulating fluidized bed combustors, supplied by Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., are the largest of their type in the world.
To make the plant even cleaner, JEA voluntarily installed additional pollution controls. Nitrogen oxides are reduced even more by a chemical reaction with ammonia in the upper portions of the boiler. Exhaust gases pass through a “polishing scrubber” – the first ever to be used in conjunction with a circulating fluidized bed boiler – to cut total sulfur dioxide pollutants to nearly 98%. Finally, the flue gas is sent through fabric filters to remove solid fly ash particles.
The Northside Station will also be one of the world’s most fuel-flexible power plants. While many older plants were designed for a narrow range of coals, the circulating fluidized bed technology burns a much wider variety of fuels. In addition to coal, JEA plans to fuel the Northside Station with petroleum coke, a low-cost, solid that oil refineries discard as waste.
As a further environmental measure, the utility installed a totally enclosed conveyor system to transport coal and “pet coke” from barges docked on the St. Johns River to the two largest fuel storage domes in North America. The contained system prevents dust particles from escaping into the surrounding environment.
Under its funding agreement, the Energy Department will collect data from plant operations through April 2004. The plant will then continue to operate as a commercial facility.
For more information, visit the DOE web site at http://www.fossil.energy.gov/.
More information about the clean coal project is available at http://www.lanl.gov/projects/cctc/factsheets/jacks/jackeademo.html.