22 October 2004 – Southern Company of the US yesterday announced that the company has been selected by the US Department of Energy to build an advanced 285 MW coal gasification facility in central Florida as part of the energy department’s Clean Coal Power Initiative.
The plant will gasify coal using state-of-the-art emissions controls, showcasing the cleanest, most efficient coal-fired power technology in the world.
The technology to be used is based on the transport gasifier that Southern Company, DOE and others have been developing at the Power Systems Development Facility near Wilsonville, Ala.
“For more than a decade, we have been involved with DOE and various partners in the development of a technology to help ensure that our nation’s and the world’s abundant coal reserves can provide clean, reliable and affordable energy,” said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We believe this plant will demonstrate that coal can and should be a part of a cleaner energy future.”
The transport gasifier offers a simpler, more robust method for generating energy from coal than other available alternatives. It is unique among coal gasification technologies in that it is cost-effective when handling low rank coal, as well as coals with high moisture or high ash content. These coals make up half the proven US and worldwide reserves.
The plant will turn the coal into gas for generating electricity while significantly reducing emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. In addition, the technology produces 20 to 25 per cent less carbon dioxide, on average, than coal-based generation in place today.
Southern Company’s partner in the project is Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC). Southern Company is developing the facility through its Southern Power subsidiary, which builds, owns, and manages the company’s competitive generation assets.
“Through our long-term partnership with DOE, we have been a leader in research and development of cleaner, alternative generation technologies,” said Ratcliffe. “We hope to further that partnership through the coal gasification project.”
Current plans are for the facility to be built at OUC’s Stanton Energy Center in Orange County, Fla., near Orlando. The cost of the project will be shared by DOE, Southern Company and OUC. The expected date for commercial operation is early 2010.
The project is expected to create more than 300 primary jobs and more than 1500 secondary jobs. In addition, $160m of manufactured products are expected to be purchased from existing manufacturing facilities during the project’s three-year construction timetable.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to work once again with Orlando Utilities Commission,” added Ratcliffe. “We already jointly own a 600 MW, combined cycle facility at the Stanton Energy Center with OUC and others, and this new project demonstrates a strong partnership in helping meet the growing energy needs of Florida and the nation.”