Tampa Electric to upgrade ship unloader systems at Big Bend coal plant

Tampa Electric Co. (TEC) is nearing an air construction permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that would allow it to rework the ship unloading facilities at its coal-fired Big Bend power plant on Tampa Bay.

“TEC is requesting authorization to install four new movable hoppers to accommodate the three self-unloading vessels at Big Bend,” said a Nov. 17 DEP notice of a draft version of this permit. “The self-unloading vessels are currently permitted as part of the solid fuel yard under the Fuel Unloading and Handling Operations (EU 010) identified as Self‐Unloading Barge to Conveyor D1 (FH-005). The four new hoppers will be able to move up and down the existing Conveyor D1 as needed to support each vessel. The solid fuel throughput for the fuel yard will remain unchanged. Therefore, the emissions from the solid fuel yard will not increase due to this project. … This project will allow self-unloading for three different types of vessels: Energy Enterprise; Florida Enterprise; and MS Enterprise.”

Big Bend Station Units 1 through 4 have a combined electrical generating output of 1,821 MW. Units 1 through 3 each have a design electrical generating capacity of 445 MW. Unit 4 has a design electrical generating capacity of 486 MW. Coal and petroleum coke are offloaded from ship at the plant site, with some of that solid fuel then being trucked inland to the Polk gasification unit. Most of this offloaded fuel is burned at Big Bend, though. A rail yard was added at Big Bend a few years ago to allow competitive transportation for the solid fuels.

Also, the department is working on a Sept. 22 application from Tampa Electric for an air construction permit on a gypsum pelletizing system at Big Bend. This system will provide another means to market gypsum byproduct from the plant’s SO2 scrubbers as a fertilizer. Tampa Electric requested processing of this application to meet a deadline of Jan. 1, 2015.

“Gypsum is a by-product created during the Flue-Gas Desulfurization process used to ‘scrub’ SOx from coal burning emissions,” said the application. “Big Bend Station currently markets its gypsum for the production of wall board as well as agricultural applications. At this time, a much larger percentage of the gypsum sold goes towards wall board production than agriculture. By pelletizing gypsum, Big Bend will see an increased marketability for the synthesized gypsum as fertilizer for agricultural applications, as well as multiple other new possibilities. The pelletizing process will be able to utilize all grades of onsite gypsum production to create a high quality, transportable product.”

The document added: “The Gypsum Pelletizer Process is currently in development by Kercher Industries (manufacturer of Lancaster Products) and will work to mechanically transport raw gypsum through several pieces of equipment to achieve a pellet material composed of gypsum and binder.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.