JACKSONVILLE, FL - In a noontime ceremony that brought
new meaning to the term "power lunch," government and industry
officials in Jacksonville, Florida, today declared the nation's newest
clean coal power plant fully operational.
At a barbeque at the newly refurbished Northside Generating Station,
officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and JEA, Jacksonville's municipal
utility, officially unveiled the results of a $630 million, 5-year effort
to install clean coal technology in the 35-year old power station.
Equipped with new, state-of-the-art "circulating fluidized bed combustors,"
the power station is now one of the cleanest burning coal plants in the
world. Its two advanced combustors – the largest ever installed
in a power plant – each generate 300 megawatts of power, enough
to light over 250,000 average households.
The plant is not only cleaner than before, it now generates two-and-a-half
times more power. Using coal instead of the more expensive oil and gas
the plant previously burned is expected to help keep electric rates low
and stable in the Jacksonville area.
"Coal supplies more than half of our nation's electricity and is
one of the reasons why American consumers benefit from some of the lowest
electricity rates of any free-market economy," said Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham in a statement issued from Washington. "The clean
coal technology in the JEA plant shows that we can continue to benefit
from coal's economic advantages while we continue to clean our air. Because
of successes like this, President Bush's National Energy Policy sets us
on course to make further investments in clean coal technology."
The editors of POWER magazine, one of the most widely read publications
in the electric utility industry, used the luncheon to present the magazine's
2002 Powerplant Award to the Northside facility. It is the 6th time an
Energy Department clean coal project has received the prestigious award.
In 1996, JEA committed to the community to reduce pollutants from the
Northside Station by at least 10 percent when it replaced two of the plant's
obsolete and inefficient oil- and gas-fired units. With the new clean
coal technology, the utility will meet its pledge and at the same time
generate significantly more power from the facility.
The Energy Department contributed more than $74 million to the project
as one of the original projects under its Clean Coal Technology Program.
The federal funding went to install one of the two combustors. JEA converted
the second boiler entirely with its own funding.
Circulating fluidized bed combustors are relatively new for the electric
power industry. While conventional coal-fired plants rely on large, expensive
devices to clean pollutants from flue gases after they leave the boiler,
a circulating fluidized bed plant reduces most of the pollutants inside
the furnace as the coal burns.
Crushed limestone added to the coal as it enters the combustor captures
90 percent of the sulfur pollutants. The fluid motion of the coal as it
burns – accounting for the name "fluidized bed" –
also allows a "slow burn" that prevents the formation of nitrogen
oxides, another air pollutant that can cause smog.
The Northside Station's 12-story circulating fluidized bed combustors,
supplied by Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., are the largest of their type
in the world.
To make the plant even cleaner, JEA voluntarily installed additional
pollution controls. Nitrogen oxides are reduced even more by a chemical
reaction with ammonia in the upper portions of the boiler. Exhaust gases
pass through a "polishing scrubber" – the first ever to
be used in conjunction with a circulating fluidized bed boiler –
to cut total sulfur dioxide pollutants to nearly 98%. Finally, the flue
gas is sent through fabric filters to remove solid fly ash particles.
The Northside Station will also be one of the world's most fuel-flexible
power plants. While many older plants were designed for a narrow range
of coals, the circulating fluidized bed technology burns a much wider
variety of fuels. In addition to coal, JEA plans to fuel the Northside
Station with petroleum coke, a low-cost, solid that oil refineries discard
As a further environmental measure, the utility installed a totally enclosed
conveyor system to transport coal and "pet coke" from barges
docked on the St. Johns River to the two largest fuel storage domes in
North America. The contained system prevents dust particles from escaping
into the surrounding environment.
Under its funding agreement, the Energy Department will collect data
from plant operations through April 2004. The plant will then continue
to operate as a commercial facility.