By: Steve Blankinship, Associate Editor, Coal-Gen Conference Committee Chairman
The United States and the rest of the world appeared on the verge of a coal renaissance when COAL-GEN was launched in Chicago in 2001. A resurgence came, with 4,390 MW of new coal capacity built and placed into service since that time and another 14,740 MW currently under construction and slated to come on line between now and 2012.
On the banks of the Ohio River, Louisville, Ky., will welcome thousands of COAL-GEN delegates and exhibitors this August.
The only problem is this: According to current North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) power demand figures, the U.S. needs to add 6,000 MW of year of baseload capacity each year just to keep pace with a projected annual demand growth rate of 1.7 percent.
Arlington, Va.-based Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), which tracks the progress of coal-fired power plant projects, predicts an annual growth rate of 1.2 percent a year.
“That means we will need 240,000 MW of new net capacity by 2030, or 500 MW of new capacity each month,” said Tom Hewson, a principal at EVA. The latest Annual Energy Outlook, published in March by the Energy Information Administration, predicted that 91,000 MW of that must come from coal. The second largest component is expected to be gas-fired peaking units (43,400 MW). Renewable energy sources comprise the third largest component (36,200 MW).
The past five years have seen the cost of a conventional coal plant double. During the same period, the cost for a combined cycle natural gas plant has almost doubled, while the cost for a wind project has almost tripled. And the cost for a nuclear plant has increased almost two-fold and now hovers at around $7,000/kW.
In short, the cost of construction for most forms of power plants has risen well ahead of a general construction index that saw a 30 percent increase over the same time. That means that despite rising costs and increasing uncertainties about carbon capture and storage, coal remains firmly front and center as a fuel to meet growing energy demand.
Meanwhile, China, India and dozens of emerging economies continue to produce air and water pollution due to their industrialization. That means markets await U.S. manufacturers and technology developers, whose products and services have provided cutting edge environmental controls to domestic power plants for decades.
Against that backdrop, COAL-GEN convenes this August 13-15 in Louisville, Ky. The largest coal-fired generation event in the U.S., COAL-GEN is hosted this year by E-ON US. COAL-GEN is expected to draw 4,000 attendees and 350 exhibitors to the Kentucky International Convention Center. COAL-GEN will offer more than 90 technical sessions over six technical tracks, three mega sessions, several pre-conference workshops and a tour of E-ON’s Trimble plant, where a new supercritical unit is under construction.
Kicking off COAL-GEN 2008 will be a keynote session featuring a senior executive from E-ON US, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Frank Maisano, a principal with the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani and Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
One mega session will address how carbon capture and storage technologies are moving from research to reality. A second mega session will examine how to control the cost of a coal project in today’s construction market. That mega session will include operations personnel from major engineering and contracting firms who will discuss controlling today’s coal project costs including contracting structures, labor, escalation, schedule and financing.
A third mega session, “The Real Meaning of Carbon Capture Ready,” will tackle a series of questions related to crafting a well-considered approach as to how a new unit, or significant repowering, will accommodate potential carbon capture scenarios and technologies. This panel will be made up of representatives from engineering, procurement and construction firms as well as original equipment manufacturers and power plant professionals.
COAL-GEN will also offer a tour of Louisville Gas & Electric’s Trimble County Generating Station, the utility’s newest power plant. The plant currently consists of a pulverized coal unit with a net capacity of 514 MW and a host of simple-cycle combustion turbines. Trimble County’s current coal-fired unit is E-ON U.S.’s lowest-cost coal-fired generating unit. It went into commercial operation in 1990. A key attraction at Trimble County is TC2, a 760 MW supercritical coal-fired unit currently under construction and scheduled for commercial operation in 2010.
COAL-GEN also welcomes energy provider professionals through its Energy Provider Program. Any power provider may send an unlimited number of employees for a single registration fee of $500. Program participants enjoy full delegate status and access to all technical sessions, the COAL-GEN exhibit floor along with meals and event receptions.
Energy Provider delegates also receive a 50 percent discount on COAL-GEN pre-conference workshops. This year’s workshops include:
Power Plant Construction Management: A Guide to Survival. Intended for new construction and outage management personnel with responsibilities for planning, developing and/or running major power plant construction projects, the course is valuable for owners as well as contractors.
Business Finance for Power Generation Professionals. A COAL-GEN favorite, this course is intended for all positions, inside or outside of the power plants, whose functions or tasks relate to plant operations, maintenance or capital investment decisions. Power generation professionals who have taken this course include plant managers, supervisors, superintendents, team leaders and engineers.
Optimizing the Performance and Operation of Power Plant Fans. This course is intended for design engineers, power plant owners and managers, maintenance department managers, plant technical services. Properly operating fans are an important component to the success, efficiency and profitability of any power plant. This workshop provides attendees with practical information to aid operators, engineers and maintenance staff with decisions they may face concerning the selection, operation and replacement of their fans.