Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has finally brought online its much-discussed Edwardsport integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant in Indiana after months of testing.
Duke said in a June 10 statement that its 618-MW coal gasification plant has entered commercial operation. The IGCC is located at the site of an old coal plant and has been bedeviled by cost overruns and other complications.
The project costs $3.5bn including financing. Plant testing took longer than most Duke facilities because the General Electric (NYSE:GE) technology had not previously been deployed on this large of a scale, a Duke spokesperson told GenerationHub.
Bechtel was a lead vendor for the IGCC project.
During the six-month period of October 2012 through March 2013, the primary progress on the project was the initial operation of the plant and significant portions of GE’s new product information (NPI) testing program, according to a recent report from the state.
The plant uses advanced technology to gasify coal, strip out pollutants, and then burn that cleaner gas to produce electricity. The technology substantially reduces the environmental impact of burning coal to produce electric power.
“Coal has powered Indiana for more than a century,” said Duke Energy Indiana President Doug Esamann. “But today’s air quality standards require us to use that fuel in a cleaner, more efficient way. Edwardsport turns coal into a cleaner-burning fuel and enables us to continue using an abundant local resource.”
As the company testified before state regulators, this is the first time the technology has been used on this scale, so the plant is expected to build up to its long-term level of availability over the next 15 months.
The IGCC replaces about 500 MW of older coal-fired generation that we recently retired or expect to retire soon due to new EPA regulations,” Esamann said. “The average age of coal-fired plants on our Indiana system is 45 years, and this facility is key to modernizing our system and filling the gap left by plant retirements.”
As one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in Indiana, about 3,500 construction workers and other professionals worked on-site during peak construction. Construction began in 2008.
The plant will employ about 140 full-time workers. In addition, the 1.7 million to 1.9 million tons of coal the plant will use each year will support an estimated 170 mining jobs.
Duke’s Edwardsport will:
•Produce 10 times as much power as the former plant at Edwardsport, yet with about 70% fewer emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulates combined.
•Use excess steam that would normally be wasted to power a second turbine and increase plant efficiency and output.
•Reduce carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour by nearly half compared to the plant it replaces.
•Generate marketable byproducts. The plant will produce sulfur and slag for agricultural and construction materials. Any revenues from marketable byproducts will go to customers.
•Use less water than a conventional coal-fired plant.