|U.S. Department of Energy|
Issued on August 26, 1998
Alaskan Power Plant
The Healy Clean Coal Technology Plant
A new, advanced power plant in Healy, Alaska, featuring state-of-the-art coal combustors and pollution controls, has passed its environmental compliance testing and is now generating electricity at full power for Alaskan consumers.
The plant's high-tech "clean coal technology" is expected to be a showcase for electric power and industrial plants in the 21st century. Not only will it help open new markets for Alaska's abundant coal resources, it is also expected to be in demand in other countries, especially those looking for cleaner ways to use coal, oil or natural gas to generate electricity.
The 50-megawatt Healy plant is located adjacent to Golden Valley Electric Association's existing 25-megawatt Unit #1 power plant near the boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve. Because of the close proximity to the environmentally sensitive area, special actions were taken to reduce air emissions. In addition to the use of a new type of clean-burning combustion system and an innovative "spray dryer" to absorb pollutants, project sponsors also installed pollution control equipment on the existing Unit #1 plant.
As a result, the electric power output from the combined units will be three times that of the original unit, yet emissions from both power stations are expected to be lower for each megawatt produced than emissions from the Healy Unit No. 1 alone. In addition, the project includes an aggressive visibility and air quality monitoring program.
The move into full operations follows an extensive start-up and testing program that began earlier this year with the first test firing of the combustors in January 1998. This summer officials from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) northwest regional office and from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation witnessed a key environmental compliance test of the plant. Running at "full load" - maximum power output - the plant performed even better than allowed under its stringent air emission permits.
For example, nitrogen oxide emissions -- a pollutant known to contribute to smog and acid rain -- were limited to only 0.26 pounds per million Btus of coal burned, nearly 25 percent lower than the permit requirement of 0.35 pounds per million Btus. Emissions of another pollutant, sulfur dioxide, were 10 times lower than permit allowances, 0.01 pounds per million Btus compared to the permit requirement of 0.10 pounds per million Btus.
The compliance testing showed that the Healy Clean Coal Project is one of the cleanest coal-burning plants now operating in the U.S. and the world. Its extremely low sulfur emission levels are well below the national standard of 1.2 pound per million Btu established by EPA's New Source Performance Standards for new power plants in the U.S.
Recently, the plant completed a test run of 18 consecutive days at full load without a shutdown or the need to take it offline. For the next 3½ years, the plant's performance will be monitored by the Energy Department, as part of its Clean Coal Technology Program. For two of the 3 ½ years, operational data will be provided at no cost to the government.
The Healy project is one of 40 first-of-a-kind, clean coal technology plants built throughout the country as part of the Clean Coal Technology Program. The program is a joint government-industry partnership to demonstrate innovative technologies that can substantially reduce air emissions while using America's coal reserves more efficiently.
The plant is designed to run as a commercial operation for the next 50 years, during which time it is projected to consume an average of 330,000 tons of coal each year. Coal is supplied from the nearby Usibelli Coal Mine. Golden Valley Electric Association, of Fairbanks, is operating the power plant. The plant has been responsible for the creation of 35 to 40 new jobs in the Fairbanks and Healy areas, including jobs at the coal mine.
At the heart of the plant are two advanced "slagging" coal combustors developed by TRW Inc.'s Space & Technology Division. In a "slagging" combustor, coal is burned at sufficiently high temperatures to melt the unburnable ash-forming mineral matter, permitting it to be removed in molten form as slag. In the advanced technology being tested at Healy, a coal-fired precombustor will increase the air inlet temperature to optimize slagging performance.
The combustor burns the coal in stages, carefully controlling the ratio of air and fuel in each stage to minimize the formation of nitrogen oxides. Limestone is injected into the combustor to capture some of the sulfur pollutants released when coal is burned. Additional sulfur and fine solid particles are removed by passing exhaust gases from the combustor through a spray dryer absorber supplied by the Babcock & Wilcox Company
The process uses a conventional boiler and turbine supplied by Foster Wheeler Energy Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation of America, respectively. A distributive control system and continuous emissions monitoring system complete the novel plant design.
Total cost of the project is $242 million, with the Energy Department providing 48 percent ($117 million) and the project sponsor, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), providing 52 percent ($124 million). AIDEA, a public corporation of the State of Alaska, was created by the Alaska Legislature to create and retain jobs in Alaska and diversify Alaska's economy. To fulfill its mission, AIDEA provides business financing assistance and has the ability to own certain facilities that enhance business development in Alaska. Additional funding of $25 million for the project is coming from power revenues and from private sector participants.
The innovative coal-fired power plant concept is appropriate for any utility scale or large industrial boiler for both new and retrofit applications. It can be used with a wide variety of coals, including high-ash content coals, and offers cost effective and reliable control of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates.
-End of TechLine-
For more information, contact:
Peggy Abrahamson, DOE Office of Fossil Energy, 202/586-0507, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otis Mills, Jr., DOE Federal Energy Technology Center, 412/386-5890, e-mail: email@example.com.
Technical Contact: Robert M. Kornosky, DOE
Federal Energy Technology Center, 412/386-4521, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.